There’s no truer measure of a person’s performance than the unsolicited remark of an impartial firsthand observer. So, when a past co-angler told Jayme Rampey “you’re not afraid to lose,” that pretty much hit the nail on the head for the South Carolina standout.
“I want to win when I go, but if I come in with three fish, that’s OK,” Rampey says of his pedal-to-the-metal style. “You’re not going to win fishing for a check.
“My mentality is that if I only get five bites – and a lot of times I do – but I put them in the boat, I have a chance to win.”
Rampey’s been making the most of his chances lately. In 2017, he won three T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League tournaments, beginning with the Savannah River Division tournament on Lake Hartwell in April, and including that division’s Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell in September and a Regional on Lake Lanier in October. Thus far this season, in back-to-back weekends in February, he’s finished runner-up in the Savannah River Division opener on Lake Keowee and won the South Carolina Division opener on Lake Hartwell. That’s four wins in less than 12 months, a feat that has only been accomplished 11 times since 1996 (pre-1996 records were lost in an FLW office fire). The last to do it was Brent Anderson from 2013 to 2014.
A lot of his drive to win comes from Rampey’s years as a defensive/offensive tackle and a third-baseman for Liberty High School’s football and baseball teams.
“I’ve always been a competitive person, and tournament fishing just gave me something more I could compete in,” Rampey says. “I love the competition and the camaraderie of it.”
That competitiveness has translated into an impressive BFL record overall: 25 top-10 finishes with eight victories. But perhaps now Rampey has just settled into his fishing prime.
Born and raised in Liberty, S.C., Rampey has owned and operated Southern Dreamscapes, a landscaping company focused on new construction, for 14 years. He also builds a handful of new homes annually, like the one in which he presently lives with his wife, Sheena, and their kids, Jaymeson, 5, and Josie, 1.
As far as lake preference, Rampey says he’s always enjoyed the diversity and big-time potential found in many of the Texas toad factories such as Sam Rayburn. Notably, his personal best was a 10-pound, 6-ounce tank he caught on a frog two years ago during a practice day on Lake Chickamauga.
Calling shallow-water fishing his strength, Rampey says his bold style is based on mobility.
“I may crank up my boat 150 times a day,” he says. “I’ll run around and run a set of batteries dead. That’s why, in the summer, when I’m fishing really fast, I’ll actually run an extra set of batteries. I had my boat dealer rig up a second set in my back compartment with a switch.
“Especially when I’m fishing a multi-day tournament, this gives me that reassurance that, if my primary batteries get weak, I have a backup. I never really kill them, but if they get weak, 100 [trolling motor power] is like 70, and 70 is like 30. When I kick it on 100, I want to go.”
Rampey marries his go-get-em attitude with an optimism that keeps him swinging ’til the final bell.
“They’re always biting somewhere, no matter how tough it is,” he says. “No matter how rainy, how cold, how hot, whatever; they’re always biting, and somebody’s always going to catch them.
“You have eight hours to figure out what they want that day. If you can do that, you win. If you don’t, you suck it up and go to the next one.”
Rampey recalls plenty of childhood fishing with his dad, but the focus was more of the bream and catfish slant. The bass bug bit when an older cousin invited 14-year-old Rampey to fish a local Tuesday-nighter.
“Once he took me to fish my first tournament, that was a wrap; I’ve fished tournaments ever since,” Rampey says. “What I like about it is that tournament fishing is never the same. I don’t care how good you are, you have to figure them out every time you go.
“You have different lakes, different weather conditions; you have the boat to deal with, the tackle, the hooks. There are so many variables that have to line up for you to succeed. So it’s really rewarding when you do well, because that means you had everything right that day.”
Rampey first sampled FLW competition by entering a few Savannah River BFL tournaments as co-angler in 2006. He enjoyed the experience, but quickly realized he wanted his foot on the trolling motor.
“I knew I wanted to pursue competitive fishing, but I knew I wanted to be in control of the boat,” Rampey adds.
Rampey has fished almost 90 FLW events, mostly as a pro/boater. He fished the FLW Tour from 2014 to 2016, where his top finishes were seventh place at Sam Rayburn in 2014 and fourth place on Kentucky Lake in 2016. He stepped away from the Tour in 2017 to devote more time to a busy family period that included Josie’s birth and their new home construction.
Rampey says he wants to get back on Tour and has 2019 qualification as a key goal for this season. Between now and his next Tour opportunity, Rampey says he’s happy and comfortable fishing the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division, along with his local BFL division.
Wherever the future takes him, Rampey says he feels he’s at a good place in his mental game.
“I had an old man tell me one time that there are three stages of fishermen: the guy that does what everybody says he’s supposed to do, the guy who does what he’s supposed to do and the guy that does what he wants to do,” Rampey says. “I think once you get to the stage where you do what you want to do, that’s the key to doing well.
“You can’t be cocky, but you have to be confident in what you’re doing. You have to have that mentality of ‘I’m going to catch ’em.’ Because if you don’t, you’re beat before you get there.”