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BayouOutdoors | The Future of Fishing

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Outdoors
May 2nd, 2023

article by DAN CHASON

photo by Kory Savage

I first met Jake Ormond as a sophomore student at ULM.  Jake had invested many hours the prior year, investigating the requirements and feasability of having a fishing team.  President Cofer advised him of the funds needed and the need of a committed faculty advisor. Jake secured the initial funding sponsors, recruited a team, and then he and a classmate approached Larry Ellerman and me about officially starting a fishing team.  Jake served as president of the fishing team until his graduation in 2011. Little did we know just how tenacious a group this would come, leading to multiple National Championships on the college level and that the group would spawn professional anglers who are still on the tour today. 

Jake settled in Sterlington, Louisiana and married his sweetheart Lena, and had two children, Gabi and Jonah. They are the backbone of his career as the life of a fisherman is anything but easy. Long periods of being apart and miles of traveling is a necessity as Jake pursued his dream of being a pro angler. This all started after college where he fished the MLF BFL circuits two years, 2016-2017, where he had three top 10 events one of which was a win at the BFL at lake Greeson in 2017 and qualified for the regional championship two years in a row. He took this success to make the move up to the next level on the Toyota series. Jake was succesful at this level and went on to qualify for the Toyota National Championship for two years. He was a top 10 in one of those at Lake Guntersville and finished 11th in AOY points, which qualified him for the MLF Pro Circuit in 2020-2021.  Consistent top 20 finishes are the norm for this gifted angler. I sat down with Jake to get a feel on what fishing is today and how various traits of the trade have changed over the years.

Fishing “back in the day” for us old timers was a flasher and a big motor was a 150 horsepower engine on the boat. Today, it is common to see 250-plus horsepower engines, forward facing sonar and tackle that varies from new offerings not even thought of 20 years ago. The modern pro fisherman is young for the most part. The demands on the body and mind are astronomical and not for those of us with bad backs and knees. Lakes are ocean sized such as the Great Lakes up north or Okeechobee in Florida where typical runs to find fish can take you hundreds of miles through challenging terrain and waves that not only are back breaking but boat breaking. One season, Jake literally totaled two bass boats in wave and stump infested waters on the east coast. This is the life of a pro angler. New waters, testy weather and of course, finding the five biggest fish you can find in a nine hour day.

Technology has changed how anglers fish and the most noted change is the forward facing sonar such as Livescope. This device can actually let you see the fish moving and you can actually track your lure in live action. It has changed how bass fishing is approached in a dramatic way. I once was asked how different it is today for anglers and my first comment was that it takes a degree in computers to fish today. Today’s angler is very skilled at lake maps, sonar, boat position and the best technique in how to coax a bass into biting. The field is a level playing field as you won’t find many boats without multiple graphs, multiple lake mapping tools and of course enough rods on board to rarely have to re-tie on a presentation.

photo by Matt Brown

Jake’s gear of choice is the new on line rigs produced by KASTKING. They even make a rod/reel designed specifically for braided line which has zero drag. I asked Jake about his set ups for different seasons and he quickly relayed that he has his go-to lures starting with the spring: Top 4…whacky rigged Yamamoto Senko in Spring, Buckeye swim jig (flip or swim) and a spinnerbait and a frog.

Top 4 summer. Texas rigged worm, shaky head worm and Bill Lewis MR6 and MR12 crank baits.

This selection works on most Southern lakes and has been a main stay on his Phoenix bass boat. Most tournaments have pre-fishing, then official practice and that parlays into at least two weeks of pre-fishing for one event. The challenge is: will the fish you locate hang around for the tournament. There are many variations that can quickly take all the practice and flush it down the toilet: Weather, new water due to rain, cold fronts and of course the old “someone beat me to the area.” With up to 200 boats in these tournaments, the larger the lake, the better it is as the angler is able to escape the crowds. Jake’s go-to depth is medium range except during the spawn. He believes that most active fish prior to the heat of summer, tend to gang up and are catchable in the 8-12 foot range and this is where he concentrates. One of the tips he shares as a professional guide is to get off of the banks. There are a lot of fish that never go to the bank and the number one mistake anglers make is to “bank pound” where their boat is actually sitting where the fish are located. This is where Livescope comes in. When you can see these areas holding fish, the confidence to pursue them follows which usually means success.

But Jake is not all about total concentration on the tournament fishing. He is an expert on local lakes such as Lake Bartholomew (where he lives), D’Arbonne Lake, Caney Lake, Ouachita River and Lake Claiborne. His professional guide service specializes in instruction and how to make you a better angler, even if you live on the lake. Jake says the future of fishing and the future angler is where we need to concentrate and he does that. He is a “coach” of teenagers wanting to pursue fishing on the high school and college level. He volunteers at events to teach fishing and has a client list that includes the business professional as well as anglers just wanting to be better at consistently catching fish.

Jake is a winner both on the stage and in the growth of the fishing industry. I see a bright future for him as he is planting the seeds for a successful career. He will certainly achieve that one cast at a time.

photo by Kyle Wood