Evinrude Pro Team’s George Cochran Retires
Following last week’s FLW Tour event at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir, three-time World Champion George Cochran officially brought an end to his 30+ years as a professional tournament fisherman. Cochran, an Evinrude Pro Team member, was the winner of the 1987 and 1996 Bassmaster Classics and the 2005 FLW Forrest Wood Cup.
E-NATION asked George a few questions about his farewell to the tournament trail.
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E-NATION: Why are you choosing to retire now?
George Cochran: I promised myself and my wife years ago that I would retire at age 62, and that’s just what I’ve done. After spending nearly 35 years of my life fishing professionally on the tournament trail, the time had come to spend more time with my wife and grandchildren.
E-NATION: Looking back on your professional fishing career, is there a moment or tournament that you’re most proud of?
George Cochran: Of course, winning three world championships – in 1987, 1996, and 2005 – are something I’m especially proud of. Winning these major tournaments has given me the freedom to end my tournament fishing career and retire on my own terms. This past week’s tournament at Sam Rayburn was my last.
I think it’s any boy’s dream to fish professionally, but so few actually have the chance to do so. I’m very lucky. My career has given me the chance to do so many things I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do, like travel to Mexico, Japan, and all over the US.
E-NATION: Usually, people retire so that they can spend more time fishing. It seems like it would be the other way around for you. What are your post-retirement plans?
George Cochran: I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife, finally doing the things she wants to do for a change. It’s a different life for a professional fisherman and his family, being away from home, participating in tournaments every week. She did an amazing job raising our children, and now I want to take trips to places she wants to go while we’re still young enough to enjoy it.
I still love fishing. My hands and arms hurt more after a long day on the water now, though, so I look forward to enjoying my retirement. I will still be fishing plenty, just no longer in tournaments.
E-NATION: What do you think will be your legacy within the professional bass fishing community?
George Cochran: Shallow-water fishing. I won all three of my World Championships fishing the shallow water, so I think that would be my legacy as a professional fisherman. Any time of year, shallow-water fishing helped me make a living for a long time on the pro tour.
Evinrude Pro Team member George Cochran ended his 30+ years as a tournament fisherman this week.
E-NATION: What will you miss most about tournament fishing?
George Cochran: I love competition. I’ll miss that. I’m sure when February comes – when I’d normally be gearing up for another season – I’ll miss that urge to compete.
There was also such a camaraderie that you develop with the other fishermen on tour. So many fishermen have come and gone during my 35 years fishing professionally. It’ll be tough not seeing my good friend Larry Nixon nearly as often. We arrived on the pro tour at the same time, and he has been a close friend throughout my career.
I’ll miss many guys from the tour, all great friends. What some people may not understand is that every time you show up at a tournament, there are sometimes 150 fishermen there, and each time it’s like a reunion of sorts. I’ll definitely miss that.
E-NATION: Is there any fishing advice that you would give to a rookie pro?
George Cochran: Work twice as hard for your sponsors. Their support and sponsorship can really make our jobs much easier. I kept many of my sponsors for the entire time I was on tour. Always make your sponsors happy. Look at baseball or any other sport. Only a handful of guys stay with one team for their entire career. And there’s more to that than just performance. Great team members are always willing to do good promotional work whenever it’s needed.
E-NATION: Is there a “one that got away” that still keeps you up at night?
George Cochran: Nope. That has never bothered me. The way I look at it is that it just wasn’t meant to be. It is what it is. I lost a lot of big fish – fish that would have won me big tournaments – but I never let it get to me.
Of course, when I won my three World Championships, everything went right. That’s how it works. It is what it is.
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Do you work the shallows for big bass, like George? Do you prefer deeper water? Head over to the E-NATION message boards to talk technique with your fellow anglers.