BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 45

tant to me to at least get a feel for what the entire lake looks like and to become familiar with how to move around on and navigate the lake. It is also important to just learn the basics, like where you are in relation to everything else on the lake. When I pre-practice, I do not sh very much. Instead I try to ride around the shoreline of the whole body of water and look for areas that remind me of places I have had success or at least places I can relate to based on past experiences on other lakes. I feel this helps me get a starting point when I come back for of cial practice and then I can start piecing the puzzle together and actually learn how to catch the bass. TB: How much research do you do be- fore even launching the boat? JL: To be honest, I did not do enough research in 2010. There are many tools that are available to help with research and I think this part is really overlooked. You can bet that in 2011, I am going to have maps of the lakes way ahead of practice and even pre-practice. I will also be scan- ning Google Earth and Microsoft Bing Maps to learn as much as I can before I even get on the water. What was really neat was this past summer at the Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier, Georgia, I found a rock pile by using Bing Maps. The photo was actually taken during the drought the year before and when the water came up, it was well under the surface. I went there during the practice and caught a sh from the spot. I was really excited about that. I thought it was pretty cool to catch a sh off a spot that is not shown on a regular map. TB: As we continued to sh the waters of Lake Okeechobee, looking for the places that held bigger sh, it was apparent that Lu- cas knew what he was doing as he quickly analyzed sections of water, looking for the right mix of depth and types of vegetation. Like a veteran, he was able to practically call his shots and predict where sh should be based on the conditions. We were able to catch sh on just about any technique we chose to use, and that prompted me to ask him, “What are your strengths as an angler?” JL: I don’t know that I really have any strengths as an angler other than being versatile. Growing up in northern California, you have to be very versatile or you get beat down. Also, coming through the ranks as a co-angler forced me to be very versatile as well because one day you can be sh- ing deep, clear water and the next day you might nd yourself up a river shing shallow, dirty water. As a co-angler I had to be able to quickly adapt to whatever possible condi- tions I was faced with on any given day.

Smallies helped Justin win the Co-angler Division at the National Guard-sponsored FLW Series Western Division tournament at the Columbia River.

January/February 2011