BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 18

FROM JOE TO PRO

B ASSIN’ THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST teeth on the

Luke Clausen cut his vers, countless glacial lakes, ri e Pacifi c and impoundments of th salmon, Northwest. While trout, ies and other saltwater spec l fi shing regularly dominate loca at the discussion, Luke notes th fi shing region’s numerous bass be destinations should not overlooked.

grow “I was really fortunate to a up in a location with such Potholes great diversity of lakes. . Then, Reservoir is brush-galore er with there is the Columbia Riv lding current. Banks Lake, a ho er, doesn’t iv R a bi um ol C e th of ol po eat lake, have current and is a gr ts of wild too. Coeur d’Alene has lo you would rice and vegetation like rsity see in Florida. That dive growing helped me to learn a lot up.”

le River Add to the list Pend Oriel , Lake in northern Washington rt of the Chelan in the central pa ir in state, and Noxon Reservo visiting northwest Montana, and there is no at th e iz al re l il w s er gl an factories shortage of quality bass tivity around. Size and produc e waters are two qualities of thes ers will that proud northwestern ong the quickly cite as being am . best in the United States

d’Alene, Luke agrees, “On Coeur s 25 for example, it now take outh pounds per day of largem good to win. There are a lot of but you smallmouth in there, too, them. A16 h it w te pe m co ’t n ca st ju lmouth or 18 pound limit of smal k in won’t even get you a chec of All most tournaments there. the lakes to up k ac st es ac pl e os th the we visit on tour, even in plains northeast with the Cham and Oneidas.”

lot more valuable than what I could learn about sh in the classroom. You have to be able to market your- self after you catch the sh. I also thought that if things didn’t work out, I would have something to fall back on. Marketing was a lot more intrigu- ing to me in that way.” While Luke had considered sh- ing full-time ever since high school, he never entertained the notion of traveling on a professional tour. “Before I made it out of col- lege, I never thought that much about shing professionally. I al- ways thought, ‘Man, I would love to do that,’ but I didn’t know if it would ever happen. I kind of came to a crossroads at graduation. I knew that I either needed to get a job or give the shing thing a try. I knew that once you started a career, it would be a lot harder to break out of it down the road.”

“My savings probably didn’t even change during the time I was in California. I made quite a bit of money, but I was sh- ing so many days that I went through a lot of boat gas and had several other large ex- penses. I probably broke even, but it was a very valuable learning experience.”

CALCULATED RISK » A Without signi cant nancial spon-

sorship, Luke had saved enough money throughout his California tenure to afford entry fees and cover other expenses nec- essary for a two-year stint on the Bassmas- ter Western Invitational circuit. “It was a calculated risk. I obviously didn’t want to lose all my savings, but I wanted to give myself every shot in the world to try and make it.” At the Bassmaster Western Open on Lake Oroville, California in November 2001, Luke’s calculated risk was reward- ed. He nished third, earning another prize boat. He also completed the season in the Top-3, gaining an automatic berth into the Bassmaster Classic and 2003 Bassmaster Tour. Even with both quali cations, he did not procure his rst paying sponsor until his rookie season on the Bassmaster Tour. Luke believes, however, that the level of - nancial support that sponsors would have initially provided was not critical to launch- ing his professional career. “One of the biggest misconceptions of professional shing is that you need to get a sponsor right away. The reality is that you are not going to get a sponsor that pays well until after you’ve had a fair amount of success. And when you nally reach that point, you probably don’t need them as badly as you did to start with.” Early in his rst tour season, Luke se- cured fourth place and $20,000 at Lake Seminole, Georgia, to bolster his con - dence and propel him through the rest of the year. In April at the Clear Lake Cali- fornia Showdown, he supplemented his rookie campaign with a third place nish. As a tour sophomore, Luke added even more tournaments to his schedule. After winning the FLW EverStart Series event on Clear Lake the previous year, he decided to give the FLW Tour an at- tempt in 2004. He registered through FLW’s Ranger Boats call-in day. “I met several people from FLW at the Clear Lake EverStart and re-

CALIFOR- » THE NIA SWING

Luke saved much of his tour- nament winnings throughout col- lege. In 2001, he decided to move to Sacramento, California, one of the hubs of western shing activ- ity. Although he looked towards the future with great anticipa- tion, his parents felt strongly that he should seek a more tradition- al post-graduate occupation. “My parents weren’t sup- portive of my decision at all and thought it was irrational to move to California just to start shing. They thought that I should face reality and go get a job, but I wasn’t going to concede defeat that easily. At the time, there was a falling-out, but they are quite proud now since I’ve had some success.” For the rst few years Luke survived on tournament win- nings alone. He traveled be- tween his rental house, camp- grounds, and boat launches, sleeping on an air mattress in the back of his truck. Despite the uncertainty of his nan- cial future, Luke still enjoyed modest success.

18

«

January/February 2011