James Watson Q&A: “I’ve Learned a Lot About Fishing as a Pro” - Major League Fishing
James Watson Q&A: “I’ve Learned a Lot About Fishing as a Pro”
1y • Dave Landahl • Bass Pro Tour
MY BEST BAIT: Hawk swears by the versatility of the Yamamoto Hula Grub
1d • Bass Pro Tour
1 BAIT/5 REASONS: Gagliardi’s go-to jerkbait excels because of ‘shimmy,’ action and castability
2d • Bass Pro Tour
Q&A with Shin Fukae: His bass fishing history, life on the road and family time in Japan
3d • Matt Naber • Bass Pro Tour
Bass Pro Tour Fantasy Fishing grand champion used MLF Insider and his own research to win
4d • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour
NO LIMITS PODCAST (BONUS): Aaron Martens, in his own words
1w • Joel Shangle • Bass Pro Tour
Watson buzzes, plops his way to late-fall topwater success (and so should you)
1w • Bass Pro Tour
VanDam and sons score big bucks on opening day in Michigan
1w • Luke Stoner • Bass Pro Tour
MASTERS SERIES: Lloyd Pickett Jr. on what makes the Carolina rig a powerful tool 12 months a year
1w • As Told by Lloyd Pickett Jr. • Bass Pro Tour
Now’s the time for ripping a lipless crankbait, according to Roy Hawk
1w • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour
Podcast: Marty Stone recaps the Bass Pro Tour season and talks about 2023
1w • MLF • Bass Pro Tour
How Josh Bertrand ties it all together on a new lake
2w • Bass Pro Tour
Jacob Wheeler looks back and into the future after two AOY titles
2w • Bass Pro Tour
Bass Cave with Bryan Thrift
2w • Bass Pro Tour
Cliff Crochet shares his top baits for fishing dirty water
2w • Bass Pro Tour

James Watson Q&A: “I’ve Learned a Lot About Fishing as a Pro”

Image for James Watson Q&A: “I’ve Learned a Lot About Fishing as a Pro”
James Watson answers some question about his 2021 Bass Pro Tour season. Photo by Phoenix Moore
October 12, 2021 • Dave Landahl • Bass Pro Tour

James Watson is not known for mincing words. If you’ve had the opportunity to watch him the past several years fishing MLF Cup events and the Bass Pro Tour, you’ll know that the Missouri pro speaks his mind. So after three seasons fishing the Bass Pro Tour, we connected with “Worldwide” for a no-holds-barred assessment of his 2021 season and career.

Q: What are your most obvious takeaways from the 2021 Bass Pro Tour?

“I’ll tell you what, I’ve learned a lot about fishing as a pro this past season in particular. I learned how much I love the RV life compared to the hotel life. Now that the rules are loosened up regarding talking restrictions amongst your peers, it’s more enjoyable and we can chat a lot more. This year I got an RV and stayed next to the Walkers, McClellands, Brett Hite and Shinichi Fukae.

“I get to stay in my own bed and have my own bath. In the evening, having a nice meal with friends, bouncing ideas off each other. Being able to do that this year made the year fun for me again.”

Q: In addition to that camaraderie, what else have you learned?

“I don’t know if this is part of learning for me, but my dad battled cancer for the last two years. I watched him wither away to nothing this past winter. It impacted me more than I thought it could. I fished Ozarks BFLs and the Toyota Series Plains Division. I did pretty well and took that confidence with me on the road fishing the Bass Pro Tour. I decided to just enjoy fishing like I did with my dad. My dad fished tournaments and that’s who got me into it.”

Q: Were there any lessons learned about the way you fish?

“I decided to change how I fished. I decided not to be so hard-headed, not so one-dimensional, and to trust myself more. Now, if an hour goes by and I’m not catching them, I’ll up and move to different areas, even if I didn’t practice there. On Rayburn, Travis, and St. Clair, I weighed some of my best fish to qualify for Heavy Hitters. I caught all of those fish using a Tackle HD Worldwide Buzzer. I just went with my gut more. There have been a lot of close calls making cuts this year, I never had a bad tournament this season. Chickamauga was my worst, and I still weighed a 6-pound, 12-ounce fish for Heavy Hitters.”

Despite missing the cut on Chickamauga, Watson landed this 6-12 to help him qualify for Heavy Hitters in 2022.

Q: What are some of your potential points of improvement?

“I feel I need to continue to improve on what I’m doing now and make Knockout Rounds and some Top 10s. I know how to win when I’m in a position to do so, just haven’t been close on the Bass Pro Tour.

Bad practices have got to me. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve had a good practice that’s sustainable.

“The MLF format is so much more difficult than a five-fish limit. Guys like Jacob Wheeler and Ott DeFoe make it seem easy. You could run a tub full of water, I’d see no bass and Ott and Wheeler can see all sorts of them they can catch 25 pounds of bass. I’m not there yet.”

Q: You’ve always been known as a great promoter and speaker. Will you keep that balance in 2022 and beyond?

“I know where I rank in the bass fishing world. My strengths are promoting my sponsors and speaking with the public. I can’t do what I need to do for sponsors without this highest level of platform that the Bass Pro Tour provides. I focus a lot more on getting paid, I don’t have a mantle full of trophies yet like some. A great year for me is $100,000 in tournament winnings. If I make enough to cover entry fees, I get to keep all my sponsor money. That’s a good year.”