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Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we’re joined by Rayovac pro Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., who recently took home the top prize of $125,000 after winning the 2013 FLW Tour event on Grand Lake.
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Christie is in the midst of one of the best seasons in professional bass fishing history. After winning the FLW Tour event on Beaver Lake, he went directly to Bull Shoals Lake and won the Bassmaster tournament in come-from-behind fashion. Last week, Christie notched his third tour-level win of 2013 on Grand Lake, his home fishery. His career FLW stats now show 10 wins, 36 top-10 finishes and over $930,000 in earnings. Christie currently sits in sixth place in the Angler of the Year standings and is a shoo-in for his fifth consecutive Forrest Wood Cup.
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Today, Christie is here to take questions from you, the fans. So, without further delay, let’s get started.
Q: Wow Jason, congratulations! What a roll you’re on. My question concerns the best color lures and trailers to use in the muddy-water conditions you faced. Is black and blue always the best choice?
— Lynda (Brainerd, Minn.)
A: I always like dark colors whether its black and blue, purple or even chartreuse and black. I’ve seen a few times where watermelon works best, but most of the time its the black hues that are better.
Q: Some flippers say that if you flip with your right hand you need to learn to reel with the left. I noticed that you (like me) flip right and reel right. Is that just what you’re comfortable doing? Do you ever feel like you miss fish while switching hands?
— Chris (Gillette, Wyo.)
A: I don’t feel like I miss any fish. If anything, I just give them a second to eat the bait better. It’s just what I’ve grown up doing. Honestly, there’s times when I flip all day with my left hand. When I use a big weight I use my left hand because I don’t have to be as precise. It’s funny – left hand is all big weight, and right is all skipping docks and flipping bushes. When I use my right hand it is more of a wrist thing than a forearm thing.
Q: How do you fish lakes like Tenkiller in September? I always seem to struggle then on clearer lakes. Great win at Grand! Has to feel good in front of the home crowd!
— Kory (Joplin, Mo.)
A: September is the month I think where fish stop getting on structure and instead get on bait. I just go look for bait, whether that is in 30 feet or 2 feet. Once you find the bait, you’ll find the fish.
Q: Back when you were a teacher and regional pro, did you ever imagine winning three tour events in a single season? Did you know you were even capable of this?
— Nick (Rogers, Ark.)
A: My goal every year is to make a few top-10s and be in contention to win at least one. So to win three is pretty unbelievable and I’m just as surprised as anyone.
Q: First off, congratulations on your great season. I’ve seen many anglers go on great runs not only on the professional level, but the on the local tournament level as well. Most anglers don’t do as well in the following season or seasons for that matter. What are you going to do to not be one of those anglers? Personally, I think you will be as consistent next year as you are this year.
— Ryan Trent Reynolds (Danville, Va.)
A: The easy answer to that is to keep doing what I’m doing. If I win, great. If I don’t, just stay hooked up and do the best that I can. I can’t expect to win three derbies every year. Two years ago I won two derbies and last year I won two derbies, so I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing.
Q: What have you figured out? I know that is a question that you will never answer. Congrats on dominating both pro circuits at the same time.
— Scott Cooley (Anderson, S.C.)
A: I haven’t figured anything out. If I had a solution or answer I could be a millionaire by selling it to all the pros. It’s just hard work, opportunity and a little bit of luck. All of those three together is the reason I’ve won three derbies this year.
Q: Do you think the Forrest Wood Cup will be a flipping tournament like Grand Lake was?
— Nick (Shreveport, La.)
A: I think it will be a shallow tournament, but I’m not sure it will just be flipping. I think a guy will have to do four or five different things to win – like throwing a buzzbait, a squarebill, a spinnerbait and then mix in some flipping. But I think it will be won shallow.
Q: Bassmaster has been here to Douglas Lake in Tenn., this year for an Open. What do you think about the FLW coming to east Tennessee next?
— CLINTON HIBLER (Blaine, Tenn.)
A: I’m looking forward to Chickamauga. I’ve heard stories about those big fish all year long. If the grass comes up, it should even the field out a little between deep and shallow. I just don’t want it to fish small. Overall, I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Jason, my smallmouth lake is always algae stained with poor water clarity. What lures/strategies would you employ for smallmouth, in the summer, for these offshore dirty-water fish?
— Buck (Madison, Wis.)
A: I would use something that has a lot of sound like a Fat Free Shad or a big 1-ounce Booyah spinnerbait – something with a lot of thump and vibration would be a good place to start.
Q: When trying to locate bass on offshore structure is side imaging pretty much a key element in locating the fish?
— Jack (Huntsville, Ark.)
A: Absolutely. Back in the day we had to find those fish by fishing. Now I don’t make a cast until I see them. It makes us as professionals so much more efficient and we can cover so much more water.
Q: What brand jig do you like to throw when flipping?
— Brian (Ada, Mich.)
A: A Booyah 1/2-ounce is what I flip. My favorite color is probably black and blue.
Q: How long have you been trying to go pro? What was your regular job?
— Brian (Ada, Mich.)
A: I coached basketball for 10 years and the whole time I was coaching I was making more money fishing than coaching, so it was always a dream. But 2007 was the year I made it a reality.
Q: Usually in June there is a good cranking mid-range to deep bite on Grand. If that were the case, what would you have thrown and where on Grand last week?
— Nate (Kelly, Okla.)
A: I probably would have fished from Sailboat Bridge to the dam and I more than likely would have used a Bomber BD7 or a Yum Money Minnow swimbait.
Q: Great job on the wins this year! What is your strategy on deep, clear lakes in the summer when it gets 100+ degrees? I really struggle during these “dog days!”
— Justin (Ashdown, Ark.)
A: Most of the time I’ll be fishing deep – 25- to 35-feet deep. I will idle around until I find the school and I’ll use a deep-diving crankbait or a swimbait. But don’t be afraid to fish really, really shallow either as a lot of those big ones never leave the bank.
Q: Do you find it more stressful to try to find fish in practice or to catch the fish you found in practice during the tournament?
— Bill (Gilbertsville, Ky.)
A: Probably finding fish in practice. That’s the big part of it. You’re trying to put the pieces together. On derby day, you just go through the arsenal trying to figure out how to catch them. Also, practice days are like 15-hour days and derby day is only 8 hours, so practice is much more stressful.
Q: It seems as though you are always chewing gum, so what is your brand of choice?
— Kyle (Eden Prairie, Minn.)
A: Wrigley Spearmint gum. I just throw a huge pack in the boat.
Q: Is flipping bushes your favorite way to fish? It looked like you were having fun last week.
— Steve P. (Springdale, Ark.)
A: Absolutely. That’s the way I grew up fishing. I feel like I’m pretty versatile, but when the water comes up in the bushes, I always make time to go fishing.
Q: I was wanting to know if you were pegging your weight at Grand and how do you peg it?
— Trent (Muskogee, Okla.)
A: I use a bobber stop and I always peg it when I’m flipping. It keeps the sinker in contact with the bait. You don’t want your sinker to fall over one side of the limb and have your bait on the other. Plus it’s easier to skip.
Q: What are your thoughts on matching the color of your jig, spinnerbait, ChatterBait, or buzzbait with the color of your soft-plastic trailer? Have you ever tried it? For example, do you think a Junebug spinnerbait or a redbug spinnerbait would work? When do you match the color of your bait with the color of your trailer?
— PJ Pahygiannis (Olney, Md.)
A: In dirty water, it really doesn’t matter. As a rule, the clearer the water is the more you want to match your trailer and make it look as real as possible. In clear water, I like to make it look real and use a brown jig and green pumpkin trailer. It almost perfectly matches a crayfish.
Q: How do you know when to stay and concentrate on a spot or move on? I find myself constantly moving down a bank and never sitting still and covering a lot of water and only catching a few small ones.
— Dan (Joplin, Mo.)
A: You know, that’s the million-dollar question. I ask myself that every day during a tournament. When do you stay and when do you go? I say the best answer is to go with your gut feeling. But I can say, once you lose confidence you need to move on.
Q: I live in Orange, Texas, where y’all had the first Elite Series event. I’m fishing in my first high school tournament on Sam Rayburn June 23rd! I’m gonna go prefish a few days before, but in this hot summertime weather what do you assume would be a good thing to throw and depth wise? Thanks!
— Dillon Taylor (Orange, Texas)
A: I would be throwing a big crankbait and a swimbait on those big drops that run into the main channel. That’s what I would do and I would guess that’s how it will be won. Unless the grass is topped out. But I still think it will be won on drops near the main channel.
Q: Wow, career earnings of $932,636! One day you will cross that million dollar mark! What (or whom) do you attribute your fishing success to?
— bman (Little Rock, Ark.)
A: It would have to be my dad and really my whole family. They are the ones that got me into fishing and developed my love for the outdoors. I really think if I wasn’t making a living fishing I would be making a living deer hunting somehow. They just really got me to love the outdoors.
Q: I’m looking forward to see the tour come back to the Chick in a couple of weeks. Have you had any time to practice there? What kind of weights are you expecting it will take to win it?
— Tim Kennedy (Hixson, Tenn.)
A: I’m expecting 24 or 25 pounds a day will win it. I haven’t had any extra practice. I will just show up and start looking. Prepractice just doesn’t work for me. I tried that and I would go back to the places I practiced and it never worked out. So I don’t prepractice anymore.
Q: Hey Jason! Congrats on another win! My question is about another lake you’re familiar with, Lake Eufaula. What are some things you would look for with the water being up and stained ?
— Micheal (Fayetteville, Ark.)
A: You want to find places where the bank is right behind the bushes. I would look for the clearest water you can find too. And it doesn’t ever hurt to find the grass when the water is up like that. It never hurts to find the grass.
Q: Aside from catching fish, what’s the most important quality a fisherman needs to succeed at your level?
— Dave (Owasso, Okla.)
A: Confidence in himself. Whenever you have confidence you make better decisions and things work out.
Q: What’s your take on KY/Barkley lakes?
— Jason (Sumner, Ky.)
A: That’s probably the best offshore-ledge lake in the country. It has tons of fish in it and probably thousands of schools. That’s one lake I go to in June or July and never make a cast at the bank. It’s one of my favorite places to go in the summertime.
Q: Do you mix lines? Meaning braid to fluoro? Seems the knot would weaken the strength.
— John (Broken Arrow, Okla.)
A: I do. All the times I’ve done it, I can never remember breaking off at the knot. You would think it does, but it never has for me. And I use the double-uni knot to connect those.
Q: What bait/lures would you use with a 6.2.1 and 7.0.1 baitcaster? And what line would you use for them? Thank you!
— Ray Ortiz (South Amherst, Ohio)
A: That’s kind of a broad question. On the 7.0.1 I use baits that I move a lot with my rod like a worm and a Carolina rig and even flipping baits. When you get a bite, you can use the reel to catch up with them. I use the slower real for cranking, spinnerbaits – that kind of stuff.
Q: Hey Jason, congrats on your win at Grand Lake. You are on a tear. My question is, how can you tell when you have found a spot that will replenish over the same day or for multiple days? Good luck the rest of this season.
— Kenneth Massey (Hamilton, Ill.)
A: Well the chances of a spot replenishing are always better if its close to deep water. But that’s something you never know until the next day of the tournament. As a rule, the further you are from deep water the less likely they are to replenish.
Q (MODERATOR): Do you think you still have a chance at winning Angler of the Year?
A: No I don’t. Usually to win Angler of the Year you can’t have a bad tournament and I’ve already had two. I’m in sixth place right now, so that means there are five guys ahead of me. At least one of those five will catch them at Chickamauga and I really expect it will be one of the top two guys – Morgan or Thrift.
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Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have to chat with Christie. Thanks, once again, to all the fans who tuned in and participated in today’s Reel Chat. And a special thanks to Christie, the 2013 FLW Tour Grand Lake winner, for giving us his time and insights.