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Hello, FLW fishing fans. Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat, the latest interactive feature on FLWOutdoors.com. Joining us today is FLW Tour pro Anthony Gagliardi, winner of the 2006 Chevy Open at Lake Murray. Gagliardi, a native of Prosperity, S.C., boasts more than $565,000 in career earnings and owns eight top-10 finishes at FLW Outdoors-related events. In addition to collecting $200,000 for winning the most recent FLW Tour event, Gagliardi also holds two additional titles – finishing first at the FLW Tour Kentucky Lake event in 2004 and first at the BFL South Carolina Division event at Wateree in 2001. Gagliardi, who began his FLW Outdoors fishing career back in 1998, finished third overall in the FLW Tour’s Angler of the Year compeition in 2005.
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Throughout the next 30 minutes or so, Anthony Gagliardi is here to chat about the thrill of winning the 2006 Chevy Open, life as a competitive bass angler and just about anything else you might want to ask him. So fire away, fishing fans. Anthony is eagerly awaiting your questions.
Q: Do most Pros on the FLW trail have other jobs besides being a fisherman? I am in college now and wondering what it would take to be able to fish professionally. Thanks for the information.
— Dewey (Valdosta, Ga.)
A: I don’t know how many other guys have other jobs. There are some. But it really has to be a unique job to take the amount of time off you need to successfully compete. The guys year in and year out who are usually in contention just fish. Personally, I think it would be really tough to do both. However, to answer the second part of your question, I think it’s very important to stay in college and get your degree but you’ll always have that to fall back on. To fish professionally, it takes a tremendous amount of dedication. That’s probably the most important thing.
Q: Congratulations on a great win. With this being your second win on the FLW Tour, which was bigger — your first or the one you just won in front of the home crowd?
— Blake M. (Prosperity, S.C.)
A: I would consider my first one a more important win for myself. But if I had to judge the two, this one was sweeter. To win in front of a home crowd meant a lot. It was really neat. If I don’t win another tournament in my career, I couldn’t ask for anything more than what happened there. I really feel fortunate.
Q: What is your favorite way to catch a spawning fish?
— Chase Henley (Knoxville, Tenn.)
A: I like throwing a weighted fluke and a tube. That used to really be my forte. The key is to make the longest cast you can and still be able to place that bait effectively, because it’s very important to keep a very close eye on the fish to see how it’s reacting to your bait.
Q: What is your favorite bait and technique when the lunkers become dormant?
— Kevin (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
A: When the fishing is tough, I fall back on my finesse fishing. I use light line. And my favorite bait in this situation is the Spot Remover jighead. I almost exclusively fish that bait on a 6-foot Kisler spinning rod. I don’t limit my fishing in those conditions to any one type of cover. With the Spot Remover, I can fish almost any type of water, and that’s what makes it a good bait.
Q: What do you do when water temps drop from 53 to 46 degrees in a two- to three-day period, and you know the fish are there but won`t bite? (And you can’t punt.)
— Rod Dannenberg (Austell, Ga.)
A: This is an ideal time to drop down in line size. If you really feel the fish haven’t moved and the cold front has moved in, that’s when I go with that Spot Remover jighead. Definitely try to slow down your presentation. That’s the only way you’re going to catch them, assuming the fish are still there. Every once in a while, if there is a small drop close by to the area, the fish will move out to that first drop in deeper water. But usually when this happens, it’s because the cold front has been around for more than three days.
Q: What knot do you use to tie on a lure and how do you do it?
— Sal Petras (Auburn Hills, Mich.)
A: I primarily use three different knots, and it all depends on the line I’m fishing. If I’m using any kind monofilament line, I tie a palomar knot. When I’m using fluorocarbon line, I use a simple fisherman’s (improved clinch) knot. With braided line, I tie a uniknot.
Q: Anthony, congrats on Lake Murray. Somone told me you caught your fish on a jig that’s made here in Minnesota. Is that true?
— Brian (Minnetonka, Minn.)
A: Yes, it’s true. It was an All-Terrain Jig, and the company is based out of Savage, Minn.
Q: What would be the best bait to have when fishing in murky, shallow water for bass during the winter months?
— Alex Solomito (Cordova, Tenn.)
A: I would either go with a big-bladed (Colorado) spinnerbait or a fat, big-lipped crankbait with a wide wobble. You want something that’s going to create a little more commotion, something that’s going to displace a lot of water, because the fish tend to sense the vibration more if they have trouble seeing the bait.
Q: What are the best baits to use in March and April to catch big bass?
— Ryan O’Neal (Carthage, Texas)
A: I use crankbaits and a jig typically in March. I use the crankbait to find a lot of my fish. If the fish have moved in shallow, flipping a jig is hard to beat. April is pretty much a wide-open month. You can catch fish in April doing a lot of different things because the weather changes so much.
Q: Congrats on a great win! I fish the BFL as a co-angler and don’t ever get to pre-fish. What would you recommend for someone in my position to be a consistent angler and have good finishes?
— Chuck Knowles (Columbia, S.C.)
A: I would go back to using a jighead worm. The Spot Remover is probably responsible for more fish being caught on the co-angler side than any other bait I know. It’s a very versatile bait; it’s not limited to shallow or deep water. It’s not a great big-fish bait, but you’ll catch quantity. And on the co-angler side, it’s the number of fish you catch that generally matters more.
Q: I find the most difficult thing associated with tournament fishing is how to get started. How and when did you get into tournament fishing?
— Jason (Bismark, N.D.)
A: I fished my first tournament when I was 12. It was a real small tournament. I’d always enjoyed bass fishing growing up. But as far as breaking into the big tournaments, the best way to get a feel for it is to start at the local level and move up through the ranks. FLW Outdoors has a good selection of tournament trails that allow you to continually move up if you’re successful. That’s probably the best way that I know.
Q: Have you ever fished any lakes in northern Georgia?
— B.J. Howard (Blueridge , Ga.)
A: I’ve fished Lake Lanier a few times, but I have to say that I’m not very experienced on it. Also, I’ve fished Lake Hartwell.
Q: I would like to know your best advice for fishing in 100-degree-plus weather.
— Ed Harris (Tucson, Ariz.)
A: A lot of it depends on the type of lake I’m fishing. No matter where you go, two things usually happen in those conditions: The fish either move supershallow or suspend in open water. I feel really comfortable fishing deep water, and that’s the exact technique I used at last year’s FLW Tour Championship, which was during the height of summer. So, during summer, those are the two best places to look.
Q: How do you break down a lake you have never fished, and what are your search bait patterns?
— Kenneth Shaw (Caledonia, Miss.)
A: I’ve asked myself this question many times. Sometimes I show up and feel like I don’t know where to start. But what you need to do is figure out general patterns based on the time of year. During practice I’ll try to fish a lot of different types of water. I’ll fish shallow and deep. More times than not, I’ve usually put together something I’m comfortable with, even though I may not have caught a whole lot on those first few days of practice. When I go to a new lake, I don’t like dedicating my entire practice to one technique. But my practice style is probably a lot different than most people. I do a lot of bouncing around.
Q: Congrats to you for your win on your home lake! With the water going down and the cold front hitting hard when the tournament started, what do you think helped you the most — your knowledge of the lake or the ability to change with the weather?
— Craig (Augusta, Ga.)
A: I think what helped me the most was that I anticipated the cold weather, and went out and looked for cover and patterns that would be good cold-weather patterns. I was actually really worried about the weather warming up, but when the cold front came back in, then I knew it was going to work to my favor. During the tournament, I only fished a handful of places I’ve ever fished before. Part of that was because the lake levels were lower than what I was used to. A 12-foot drawdown makes a lot of difference. A lot of spots I knew of in the past really weren’t fishable this time around.
Q: What lures would you choose to fish deep, clear water and why? Awesome job at Murray!
— Kenneth Shaw (Caledonia, Miss.)
A: It depends on the lake. A lot of lakes you have to downsize when you fish deep. You can break out the 6-pound-test line and tie on a drop-shot with a 4-ounce finesse worm; that’s one of my favorite ways to fish deep, clear water. This time of year, or in the fall, you can also have success with a jigging spoon. But nine times out of 10 you’re catching fish on a finesse type of presentation.
Q: Do you feel that your engineering degree has in any way helped your career as an angler? I wanna be, I wanna be, I wanna be like Anthony.
— Jonathan Woody (Greenville, S.C.)
A: To be successful as an angler, you need to be creative, and I think my engineering degree has helped me with that. I’ve designed some baits along the way that I might otherwise not have come up with. The way I approach my practice periods and the way I think about problem solving, I think, have some direct correlation to my engineering studies. So, yes, overall I do think it’s helped.
Q: What’s the story with this new Gamma line you’ve started using?
— Matt (Indiana, Pa.)
A: Every fish I caught on Lake Murray a few weeks ago was caught on Gamma Edge fluorocarbon line. I was introduced to this line during the Top Gun Championship last summer, and I’ve been sold ever since. I have fished with a lot of different lines in my career, and this is by far the best line I’ve ever used. And I’m being honest. I wouldn’t have taken them on as a sponsor if I didn’t really believe it. It’s stronger and more sensitive than anything I’ve ever thrown. It’s just extremely good fishing line.
Q: What do you consider the hardest thing about being a professional fisherman?
— Roger (Yulee, Fla.)
A: The hardest thing is the travel and the time away from your home and family. It would be hard to do this without the support of my wife, and that is probably true for every single angler out there who has a family. That’s probably the one downside to this sport.
Q: How did you get started fishing on the FLW Tour?
— Destry Richardson (Sulphur, Okla.)
A: The year after I graduated from college, I had been fishing on the co-angler side of the FLW Tour for two years. So when I graduated, I was going to give myself one or two years to try and make it on the pro side. My dad helped me out financially. The first year I finished the season ranked 74th after only fishing five events. I made enough that year to pay my own way. I didn’t make a whole lot of money, but it was enough to pretty much cover my entry fees and expenses. I’d get a check and hand it right to my dad to make sure I paid him back. Back then, it was a little bit tougher. Back then, you didn’t get $10,000 for finishing in the top 50 places, so it was a little harder for me. But now with those new rules, it’s been a real lifesaver for a lot of people. That’s probably the single best rule change that’s happened.
Q: What can I do to improve my hook-ups on the deep-water fishing with the heavy 1 1/2-ounce weights?
— Bryan Carter (Waco, Texas)
A: The first thing you can do is switch to fluorocarbon line; it has a lot more stretch. You can feel the bite sooner as well, and that’s the main thing. It’s imperative to remove as much slack as possible. There is also a lot of water resistance or drag on your line when you’re fishing deep. Keep everything as tight as you can, because you’re never putting as much force on that hook as you think you are. I try to take up a little bit more slack than I normally would fishing any other depth. When you set the hook, you want it to be at chest level. Always keep that hand on the reel handle, because when that fish starts moving up, you’re going to need to start reeling to keep the tension on.
Q: Hey Anthony, I have two questions for you. 1) Is there a proper way to spool line on a spincaster reel to keep your line from twisting? 2) Where do you start looking for fish in the spring? Congratulations on your success, and keep it up. I am betting on you for the Angler of the Year. Thanks.
— Joey Rogers (Mayfield, Ky.)
A: What you do is, you get your line and tie it on a spool. Lay the spool flat on the ground and make about 10 turns with your reel handle. Then drop your rod tip toward the spool, and if the slack twists up real badly, flip it over. If it doesn’t twist up, keep going. If you did it wrong, it’s going to twist really bad. After I get done, I run the spool under hot water, and the line will conform to the new diameter of the spool on your reel.
Q (MODERATOR): Do you feel good about your chances for staying in contention during this year’s Angler of the Year race on the FLW Tour?
A: Yeah, I feel really good about my chances to stay competitive. Pickwick Lake is going to be the one big question mark though. But if I can come away from Pickwick with a decent finish, I’m going to feel really good about the remainder of the schedule. Hopefully, it will work out for the best.
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Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have today. Anthony wanted to thank the fans again for coming out and participating in his chat. He wishes everyone well and hopes to see you along the tour this year.
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Tune in for the next FLW Live Reel Chat. You can bet we’ll have another compelling pro on deck to answer all of your questions.