Something For The Youth. Written by FLW Pro Angler Michael Neal

by Jake Freeman May 02, 2016

Something For The Youth.   Written by FLW Pro Angler Michael Neal

Something for the Youth


Being 24 years old, I, along with most people, would consider myself to still be - for lack of a better word - a “kid.” I am well aware of the fact that I still have a lot to learn before I become even as wise as I thought I was in the past, especially when it comes to my passion: fishing. Often times there is a fine line between confidence and thinking that we know it all. This is a mind trap that I have fallen in countless times, refusing to take what I was thinking for anything but the Gospel. At the end of the tournament, I would look back and realize that if I had been just a little bit more open minded, I would have caught a lot more fish; the tournament results were just further proof. If it happened one time, it would be one thing. However, history has a way of repeating itself and I can think of more instances than I can count on both hands.   This offseason one of my main goals is to instill in my brain that I – now nor never – know even a minute percentage of what there is to know pertaining to bass fishing. This is one of the many things that make fishing what it is. Between the changing trends in baits, weather conditions, water temperature, boat pressure, etc., fisherman have to always keep an open mind knowing that things can take a 180 from not only one day to the next, but by the minute as well.


Every fisherman has their own unique identity pertaining to the way they fish. I have never seen two people that fish exactly the same 100% of the time. We pick up on the little odd and end things from others that we get the chance to share a boat with. This is why I always encourage people to fish with as many other fisherman as possible. It does not matter if it is a person who has won 5 Bassmaster’s Classics or a 65 year old man that has always fished out of an aluminum boat all of their life. My identity came from mainly three people: my uncle, grandfather, and father. Each one of them taught me different aspects or techniques that have stuck with me. For instance, I learned a lot about fishing shallow from my dad, fishing offshore and reading electronics with my uncle, and caught hundreds of schooling fish with my grandfather. These are the three that I have had the chance to fish with the most, but I have learned many small details from others. For instance, I was on Watts Bar with a long-time family friend catching them on a football head jig. I was throwing just the run of the mill green pumpkin with a matching twin tail grub as a trailer catching them fairly frequently. He pulls out a black and blue jig with a pumpkin trailer on it. Of course, I laughed under my breath knowing that he would never get a bite on something as ugly as this. However, after about 10 minutes, I was asking him for some of those grubs to put on the jig that I had just tied on to match his. He had caught three basically back to back while I had not had a bite. Needless to say, this is something that has stuck with me and I have caught many fish using that exact combination. Another perfect example was the first day of the first FLW Tour tournament that I fished as a co-angler. I drew out Brett Hite who went on to win the tournament at Lake Toho. Of course, he caught his fish on a chatterbait which also happened to be the first fish I had seen caught on one. It is no secret now that when I fish shallow, this is one of my go to baits. Although I may have caught on to these two techniques/baits later on, fishing with these two people sure did shorten the learning curve.


Not only do I encourage people – especially the younger ones – wanting to expand their knowledge of fishing to go with as many people as possible, I also encourage others to be willing to take those that may not get the opportunity very often. Had I not had the people willing to take me when I was younger, I would not enjoy this great outdoor sport near as much. Fishing as a whole has a much brighter outlook than it had just a few short years ago with the advancement of both high school and college fishing. As long as there are people willing to take the time to get the young generation involved, we will continue to see more people getting involved. I, for one, take pride in knowing that there will be people sharing my passion for years to come.


Michael Neal

Jake Freeman
Jake Freeman


Leave a comment