Angler of the Week: James Watson - Major League Fishing

Angler of the Week: James Watson

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January 12, 2018 • Rachel Dubrovin • Archives

Major League Fishing wants you to get to know your favorite anglers! That’s why we’re putting together a new angler profile every week in 2018. Check our site regularly for the latest and send us YOUR questions for the anglers.

James Watson Fast Facts

It’s going to be a busy 2018 for Major League Fishing Pro James Watson. He will be fishing the FLW Tour, and of course, MLF Select events. Watson says he’s especially excited to compete this year because he’s fishing for a cause that’s close to his heart.

“Every pound of bass that I catch this year, I’m going to donate $2.50 to the Shriners Hospital for Children, and I’ve got multiple sponsors on board that are going to give lots of money to this campaign,” Watson explained.

He encourages his fans to track his progress on his website and Facebook page. Watson says MLF Commissioner Don Rucks has already donated $1,000 out of his own bank account to the fundraiser.

“I can’t think of a more noble cause to help,” Watson said.

Watson says he’s been to the hospitals and seen the children who benefit from the donations, as well as their parents who take shifts to make sure they’re with their child.

“There’s nothing more touching than seeing stuff like that,” Watson said.

Watson says he doesn’t have children of his own, but his fiance has a 7-year-old who he loves as his own kid.

In his free time, Watson says he enjoys talking to high school fishing teams. He shares valuable life advice to help keep kids focused on their goals.

“If you know what you want to do, go do it and don’t waste five years trying to do it,’ he said, “Go to school, get your degree. Join the workforce, work your way up the ladder.”

Watson says it’s alright if you don’t know everything, but he says you always have options.

“No matter what you do, you got three options in life, with every decision that you make: You can lead, you can follow, or you can just get out of the way,” said Watson.

That’s his advice when it comes to fishing, and life in general. The mantra helped him become a professional angler, but the bass fishing industry is extremely competitive, and his success didn’t come easily.

“I went broke fishing,” Watson said, “Meaning I worked a good enough job that was barely enough for me to pay my own rent, and pay my own way in life, and go fish buddy tournaments… And I got to the point where I couldn’t even do any of that, so I was like, ‘It’s time to get away. Chasing this bass fishing deal, I ain’t got enough money to do it.’”

That’s when Watson decided to join the Army. Regardless of how successful he is as an angler, he says serving his country will always be his greatest accomplishment, and the most fun he’s ever had in his life.

“I went in in March of 1993. I was an engineer. I operated heavy equipment, but spent most of my time in combat engineer units,” he said.

During his eight and a half years of active duty, he was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Fort Drum, New York, and finally, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“When I got promoted to staff sergeant, I volunteered to go to drill sergeant school, and my last two years in the Army I spent as a drill sergeant for basic combat training,” he said.

Watson says he was still able to fish while he was in the Army, and in 2010 he started fishing professionally. In 2013, he retired from real estate and bass fishing became his full-time job. However, Watson is still the part-owner of a realty office in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Miller, Missouri, a small town just west of Springfield, is Watson’s hometown. He says some of his earliest memories are of fishing with his father on the Kings River off of Table Rock Lake. Today, he lives in a lake house off Table Rock in Lampe.

He says he loves fishing in the Ozarks. But outside of Missouri, Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida is one of his favorites. He says it’s an entirely different style of fishing.

“The average depth at Okeechobee is like 4.5 or 5 foot. And it’s got a lot of grass and vegetation in it,” he explained, “Where Table Rock, you know, is as deep as 200 foot, and it’s clear, and there’s no vegetation.”

Of course, when he’s fishing with MLF, anywhere is possible. That means Watson has to be ready for fishing in a variety of environments. He says the fast pace of MLF sets the league apart from other tournaments.

“I like the fact that it really exposes us as anglers, not just our fishing but our personalities.”

He says that’s a win for the anglers, the sponsors, and the fans who are watching at home. Watson is a MLF fan favorite because of his memorable personality and sense of humor. He says what you see on TV is what he’s like in real life.

“That’s my personality, which some people find quite annoying,” he said, “But some people find it entertaining.”

He says he appreciates his fans, and doesn’t spend too much time worrying about the critics.

“I’ll pray for them for being too uptight,” said Watson.