Larry Nixon opens up about FLW Tour win
On April 29, 2007 Larry Nixon won his 17th tour-level bass tournament – the FLW Tour Major on Lake Norman. He had fished nearly 5 years, 4 months without winning another. Sunday afternoon, a week before his 62nd birthday, the legendary Team Evinrude Pro won the FLW Tour Open on the Detroit River by a smashing margin of over 6 pounds.
Of the win Nixon and his competition said “I was about to think I didn’t have another one left in me. These kids are so tough nowadays.
“I really never had any idea I had enough of the right type of fish found to win that event but that’s the way tournament fishing is, sometimes you just find the right school of fish and you fish good and it happens.”
Nixon fished familiar water. “Every time I’ve ever been there when I made this certain drift I’ve caught a fish or two on a jerkbait. But I never have found a school of fish like that there.”
He caught a 5-pounder while checking a spot and noticed a 4-pounder following the hooked fish. His practice partner also caught a good fish on the spot and Nixon marked the location on his GPS.
“I didn’t realize there were two more guys going to find that little old place.”
His stretch of St Claire was loaded with enough smallmouth to support, not only Nixon, but runner-up Bill McDonald and Shinichi Fukae (5th place) as well.
“We were pretty much fishing one big old school of fish that was scattered around a quarter-acre sand flat. There were so many fish that each of my co-anglers caught 20 pounds.
“I did have one other little sweet area that gave me two great big ones that made a big difference in my total weight. One of them was almost a 6-pounder and the other one weighed right at 5-and-a-quarter.”
He located schools of roaming smallmouth with a swimbait. Once he found fish he worked the school over with a drop shot. One of his better baits was the Gulp! Alive! Jerk Minnow. “It’s a lot more buoyant than a lot of other twitch baits and it stands out straighter on the hook. That was a big key. If it laid down you didn’t get bit so it took that type of a bait to get a strike.”
He said the St Claire smallmouth behaved in typical fashion, “Those fish group up in a big area and if you catch one you’ve got to hang around because somewhere there’s a big school. Sometimes you miss them. Sometimes you get on them.”
Nixon got on them to the tune of 84 pounds, 11 ounces over 4 days – a feat that has him in contention to qualify, by way of the FLW Tour Opens, for the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup to be held in Shreveport, LA.
“That would be really sweet after I had such a bum season this year on the Tour. That like to have broke my heart when I missed the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Lanier. I was down on the old confidence after that. This (win) was a big boost for my personal feelings and confidence.”
He’s focused on nailing it down, “I’ve got two more to go on these Opens. If I can finish well in both of them that should qualify me for next year’s Cup.
“That would be just super. I think Shreveport would be right down my ally. I know that Red River pretty good.”
Fittingly, the FLW Chevy Team pro has won twice in Detroit, his other victory coming on St Claire in 2001. “That lake has been good to me.”
Stable weather worked to his advantage. Winds got a bit scary on day 4, though. This actually worked in Nixon’s favor too. It eliminated any threat from pros who fished wind-whipped Erie where anglers could not keep a dropshot in front of fish long enough to get bit consistently.
Even on St Claire big waves made navigation difficult. “Let’s see . . . $140 worth of gas each day. A lot of that was contributed to the weather being rough, having to go slow and ride big rolling waves, plus the distance we were running. I was fishing about 60 miles away from take off. And it performed flawlessly – my Evinrude and my Stratos.
“My camera man said ‘I’ve been in these boats for many years. Either you’re the best boat driver I’ve ever had, or this darned Stratos really rides nice!’ I said ‘I think it’s the boat driver’,” laughed Nixon.
On that note, the affable Arkansas angler has a rough water boat handling tip. “I always turn that nose into those waves. I don’t take anything catty-cornered ‘cause that’s when you hurt your back.”
Also, for those who spend a lot of time on really big water Nixon recommends a 4-blade outboard propeller for added bite in big waves. But he is fearless with a hydraulic jack plate and 3-blade prop on his e-tec.
“A big long run doesn’t scare me a bit. I’ve been running those Evinrudes so long, long distances don’t bother me. I never have a problem. It’s rare, rare, rare that I ever have to go to the service truck. And usually if I do it’s because I hit something somewhere.”