1. Why was this win such an emotional one for you?
> "Man I didn't really expect it to be emotional. I think when you win one of these tournaments, when you give it your all, practice daylight to dark, don't get much sleep – it's like a rollercoaster all week...it all comes down to that last 10 minutes. Because during the day I never thought I was really that safe – a 15-lb lead is like 4 casts. Me and Jacob were in a race all the way to the end. In the last 5-10 minutes then everything falls down on your head....
> "...in 3-4 footers, losing fish, keeping them hooked up...it's stressful reeling in 4-5 lb smallmouth when you have all that on the line. I had an 18-b lead. If I lose 3 of those 5-lbers, I'm about to lose the tournament....
> "...all of that and winning 2 in a year. It's been a rollercoaster of a year so far. I knew I had to do good to make Redcrest, and D'Arbonne and Lake of the Ozarks were kind of flops for me. To get a win, to have 2 in a year...was incredible."
2. You've won 1 out of 3 events twice this year – what's going on? Doing anything different?
> "I think I'm just kind of coming into my own. I have a lot more confidence now, I fish to win, I'm slowing down. There's a such thing as maturing as an angler.
> "We learn every year...new techniques and new electronics and whatnot. And I've kind of learned you have to go against the grain. I don't have an advantage cranking, skipping docks...just stick to my game, do what I love doing, and if it pans out I win the tournament.
> "Confidence and sticking with my gameplan...just maturing as fisherman."
3. Do northern smallmouths now outweigh northern largemouths and was that part of your thinking at Cayuga?
> "Absolutely. Those smallmouths are dominant. I don't care about what [northern smallmouth] fishery you go to it's unbelievable. ...Champlain, the St Lawrence – they're dominant. There's more of them, they're bigger, more aggressive....
> "For the most part now, smallmouth will always win on Champlain [it used to be a mix there]. Now you can catch 23-24 lb [limits of] smallmouth – it used to be 18-19 lb bags.
> "At Cayuga I think [his win] will change how people win tournaments there. I had 25 3/4 lbs [best 5] the 1st day, 24 on day 2, day 3 I had 23 1/2, and the final day I had 25 /12. That's almost 100 lbs in 4 days. ...can't compete on that lake with just largemouth."
4. Does forward-facing sonar now mean the smallmouth bite over multiple days is more reliable than it used to be?
> "100%. It just depends on how much pressure there is.
> "I didn't have any fishing pressure – I could run around the lake...4 miles to a place and no one was sitting there. I could tell that [the smallies] had been messed with by me. I was the one messing with them....
> "[But] these fish are starting to get used to it...even crappie ...around my house, you can pull up to [a school] and they are finicky because they feel that pressure. It's like with 2D, dropping on [bass] shallower than 20' – they'd get finicky, they wouldn't want to bite. They're starting to feel that pressure with forward-facing sonar, but as of right now that is the best invention in bass fishing ever."
5. Is it more fun to tie leaders on spin rigs to fish for smallmouths, or just use baitcasters for largemouths? 😁
> "I love tying those leaders now – I've gotten used to 'em. I used to hate tying an FG knot, but I've tried so many in the past 3 weeks.... I used to dread tying those, I'd mess one up – now it's like a competition to me, to see how good of a knot I can tie.
> "When I drive 20 hours up north, I want to catch brown fish. So I'll tie those leaders all day long."