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Welcome to FLW Live Reel Chat. Today we're joined by FLW Tour pro Scott Suggs of Bryant, Ark. As the winner of the prestigious 2007 Forrest Wood Cup, Suggs became the first angler in history to net $1 million in a major bass-fishing championship. Since that time, Suggs’ accomplishment has been highlighted by national media outlets such as CNN Headline News, the Best Damn Sports Show Period and Time Magazine.
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Although Suggs' FLW Tour career is only three years old, the Arkansas native already boasts three top-10 finishes on the tour. Suggs also has two top-10 finishes in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League and nearly $1.2 million in total earnings at FLW Outdoors events. Today, Scott Suggs is here to take questions from you, the fans. Let's get started.
Q: How does it feel to win a million dollars?
-- Michael (Thomasville, Ga.)
A: It's unbelievable the sport has come so far where you can win $1 million. The money really hasn't sunk in yet. Getting this win was something I really wanted. Learning how to win was important. In Arkansas we don't have any professional sports, and I mean, as everybody could tell, that crowd was unbelievable. Just winning it for the crowd and the state of Arkansas seemed to override everything else. The money is a major shock to anyone. I don't think I've seen the magnitude of it yet. It just hasn't sunk in. I'm pretty much the same person with the exception that my daily routine and schedule have changed. I have no reason to change my life personally, but my bank account has changed a little bit, and my schedule has changed.
Q: Great job, Scott! With fishing conditions being so tough to get a limit of five keeper bass a day, what was your best lure and technique throughout the tournament?
-- Frank (Brownstown, Mich.)
A: My biggest thing was a 3/4-ounce War Eagle spinnerbait in a firecracker color. That and a 10-inch power worm. My main tactics were fishing suspended fish. The lake had a lot of suspended timber, and the fish were suspending in that timber. I had a lot of past history on that lake. I knew where, what I called, the "old breaking holes" were. I threw the spinnerbait in pole-top timber and threw the worm in cedar trees.
Q: I just wanted to know how you ever found those fish for the first time - the ones in 80 feet of water in standing timber. How do you ever stop and fish something like that?
-- Patrick Majors (Rogers, Ark.)
A: I caught fish at Beaver Lake the exact same way; the fish came out of 40 feet of water in standing timber. And it was the same way in Ouachita. I knew from experience that, in the fall, I could do a similar thing. When I figured the pattern out, I started running these familiar areas. All of the fish were suspended between 22 and 26 feet no matter what the (overall) water depth.
Q: Hey, Scott, congratulations on your big win! Would you say it is more difficult to have a top-50 finish on the FLW tour and win $10,000 or to win a local BFL event against all of the best locals from that particular area?
-- Jamey Black (Sheridan, Ark.)
A: There's no doubt about that question. I'd rather go and take my chances of finishing in the top 50 in an FLW event than try to win a BFL event against local anglers, especially in Arkansas. Some of the best anglers in the entire country are local anglers from Arkansas. The anglers here are just so versatile.
Q: Great job, Scott! As a local favorite, were you happy to see the fishing conditions really tough, and did it give you a huge advantage over the other fishermen?
-- Frank (Brownstown, Mich.)
A: Yes. Most definitely. Everybody has their own little group that talks, and it just so happened that some of our buddies started practicing Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But I didn't start practicing until Monday. My group told me how bad the fishing was. But I was sitting there thinking, "As good as these guys are, if the fish were holding on structure, these guys would have found them." On my second cast in practice, I was trying to hit 25 feet and I missed, and my worm fell down to 35 feet and I landed about a 3 1/2-pounder. I pulled right over to another place, threw out further and started swimming that lure out probably in 38 to 40 feet. I counted the worm down to 20 feet and started reeling the bait real slowly through the trees. After those first two spots, it tipped me off immediately what was going on. Another helpful thing I did was spending a lot of time determining how deep my bait was. I knew going into the tournament how deep my bait was at all times.
Q: Congrats on the win, Scott! I was inspired by you and the other Arkansas anglers at the 2005 championship. I now, at age 40, am fishing the BFL and have recommited my lifestyle to improving every day. What kind of commitment did you have to make to get to this level?
-- Danny Cox (Avilla, Ark.)
A: That's a neat question, because I know exactly what Danny is saying. Personally, I love to turkey hunt and play golf. But this year, I started out so strongly, I turned down plenty of opportunities to hunt and gave up swinging the golf club since last year. I try to stay so focused and zero out everything else in my mind that might have a hand in breaking my concentration. I love doing those other things, but I chose to focus on what I'm making my living at. However, if I'm in a slump, I'll go back and do some of these other things to change my attitude and recharge my batteries. I'd just say that it's important to stay focused and follow your goals - let your hobbies become secondary.
Q: Hey Scott, congratulations! It couldn't have happened to better guy. You are a true gentleman. I hear you are somewhat of a prankster out on the tour. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
-- Monte Griffin (Hot Springs, Ark.)
A: One of the best pranks I've ever pulled was on Monte Griffin (person asking question), but I won't get into that. I just love to have fun. That's what a lot of the fellowship is all about. It helps break up these trips and keep your mind off of being away from your family.
Q: Why is the 10-inch ribbontail worm so effective on Lake Ouachita? Is it a good bait year-round or only in the summer?
-- Dustin Ross (Shawano, Wis.)
A: I have certain dates and times when I start throwing that bait; the late part of June is when we start throwing those worms. We throw it from June 20 to like the end of August. I'm sure they'll bite it earlier and later than that, but I'm not as productive with it at other times of the year.
Q: You fished twice in Spain in the Eurobass Cup. Was that important for you? Is the fishing different in Europe than in the United States?
-- Cidália (Valladolid, Spain)
A: The lakes we fished on in Spain are really steep, rocky structure. Our lakes here are abundant with good shad suppies; over there, there isn't that great of a food supply, so there aren't as many bass and not as many bass of big size. I know there are some great lakes to fish over there, but I haven't really fished them. You can catch fish here and in Spain on the same baits, but it's just that the overall number of fish are generally smaller. But it does show you that a bass is a bass no matter where you are in the world. The Eurobass Cup - I went back-to-back years - is improving every year. I want to go this year, but my schedule won't let me. Basically, it's 10 or 12 of the best pros in the U.S. who go over and fish against some of the best European anglers. I have a great relationship with those guys. During the tournament, you switch partners almost every day and get to fish team tournaments with a bunch of different people. I also learned a bass fisherman is a bass fisherman no matter what language you speak. You exhange baits and really learn a lot from each other. It was just a great experience.
Q: Congrats! What is in the plans for the near future? Been contacted by any major television news (morning shows, late night, etc.)?
-- Darrel Johnson (Davenport, Iowa)
A: I think FLW is working on getting me on something like 10 different talk shows. I just got done taping the "Best Damn Sports Show Period." As for the future, I'm not really sure. I've already done about 35 television appearances; it's just crazy. But I'll tell you, it's so dang fun. I'm having a blast. I so hope I win next year just so I can do it again.
Q: Congrats, Scott! You mentioned using a spinnerbait and worm to catch the majority of your fish. Can you go into detail about your equipment (rod, reel, and line) that allowed you to outfish your competitors?
-- Matt (Lower Burrell, Pa.)
A: I just used heavy-action rods because the sensitivity is still there, but so is their strength to get a good hookset and land the fish. I used 15-pound fluorocarbon during the tournament. I used two different reels: a Revo by Abu Garcia and Shimano.
Q: Scott, your two lowest tour finishes came on rivers this year - the Potomac and the Detroit. Generally speaking, do you have a harder time fishing rivers, and if so, how does that affect the way you approach those fisheries?
-- Carl Benson (Annapolis, Md.)
A: That's a good question. I absolutely love fishing rivers. The whole entire year I thought there was no way I'd miss making the top 10 at those two events. What really screwed me up on the Potomac was a 4-foot depth change because of a storm on the East Coast, and it really backed the tides up. It was a freak of Mother Nature. I'd never seen a river change that much before, and it kind of got into my head. Then at Detroit, we had 40-mph winds the first day. All of the areas I'd been fishing had muddied up. Basically, it was just two freaks of Mother Nature that hurt me. But I learned a valuable lesson: Don't ever take anything for granted.
Q: If I went out and threw a 5-inch Senko on the weedline, would I catch any bass on Lake Ouachita? Also, how do you find the weedline?
-- Jeff (Minneapolis, Minn.)
A: It depends on what time of the year you're talking about. We have what we call an inside edge and an outside edge. In the spring, the inside edge, the shallow side, can be as deep as 10 feet. And the outside edge can be as deep as 28 feet. I'd say 85 percent of the lake has grass, so it's not hard to find it. In the spring, right at prespawn through the early stages of postspawn, there is a two-month window during which that bait would be an excellent choice. Other than that period, I wouldn't fish that particular bait.
Q: Hey, Scott, congrats again! How long will the spinnerbait pattern be effective in the timber? Will it just get stronger as the lake level lowers?
-- Tommy T. (Benton, Ark.)
A: That's a really good question. I throw the spinnerbait 12 months out of the year on Lake Ouachita, and I throw it in the trees all year. I think it works best in January, when the temperature is 42 to 44 degrees. Lake level does not matter one way or another for me. The fish live in the trees year-round at Ouachita.
Q: Who was the person directing your boat traffic on Saturday and Sunday of the Cup? How much did that help, not having to worry about fans getting too close or spooking your fish?
-- Joel P. (Malvern, Ark.)
A: There was a guy named Larry Ford who was directing boat traffic. I've known Larry for a long time, fishing tournaments and things. And the second day, the local boat traffic got pretty bad, and Larry stepped up and took command. I didn't ask him to do anything, but he made sure the boats stayed back. When I moved, Larry directed the locals like a dream, especially during the final two days of the tournament. The only thing he wanted from me was a bait with my signature on it.
Q: Any thoughts or plans for a Scott Suggs Bass Fishing Show on TV?
-- Mark Thornton (Bryant, Ark.)
A: Well, that's another pretty good question. I'm not going to lie; I'll be talking to certain groups, and hopefully, five years down the road, that's something I might be able to do.
Q: Great job, Scott! After winning a major event like that, is AOY the next thing on your mind?
-- Wes Jones (Pell City, Ala.)
A: You know, I'd love to win Angler of the Year. Here's what everybody would like to accomplish in their lifetime: If you can get a major championship under your belt, then AOY under your belt, and win a regular-season FLW Tour event. If I can do that, I'd feel like I'd accomplished everything I've dreamed of accomplishing. I don't want to be a one-night wonder.
Q: Congrats, Scott, on your victory. Tell me, where is your comfort zone: power-fishing or finesse-fishing ?
-- Thom (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
A: Finesse-fishing. I love to finesse-fish.
Q: What's up, million-dollar man? Congratulations on the victory; hopefully that means that you won't be hitting all of the local tournaments, taking all of my money. Here's the question: Let's say you're fishing a night tournament on one of your local lakes, like DeGray for example. You have been wearing them out before dark, but as soon as it gets dark, the bite dies on you. What do you do? Have the fish left the area, or do you just need to adjust?
-- Big Ears (Bismarck, Ark.)
A: Just for the record, night fishing is how I made my career. But to answer the question, you just need to change the area of the lake you're fishing. With lakes with hydrilla in them, the fish either suspend out away from it or bury themselves in it. When it gets dark, I go to where the coon tails or brush piles are more dominant.
Q: Scott, I know your family and friends, especially your wife, Kim, play a huge part in allowing you to continue to do what you love. How would your life be different without that support on the homefront?
-- Crystal Dillard (Bauxite, Ark.)
A: That's a really good question for people out there. The importance to my success, my wife, from the time we dated to the time we got married to our first child - all the way through - we planned everything out. After we got married, we waited five years to have our first child and six years to have our second. That allowed me time to fish these tournaments. I did this because I didn't want to take anything away from my kids. There are so many people who attempt this when they're not financially stable or too young. They're good fishermen, but they wind up leaving the sport because of finances. I'd recommend that you stay home, work and put yourself in position to do this sport while you're in a comfort zone. It's so hard to fish successfully when you're living paycheck to paycheck. I have a lot of good friends in this sport, but my best friend is my wife. And if you don't have that type of relationship, you need to be doing something differently than you're doing. It definitely takes two to tango.
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That's all from Scott Suggs for now. However, he personally requested that we mention that he's sorry he didn't have time to get to everyone's questions. Furthermore, Scott wanted to thank bass-fishing fans everywhere for making the sport what it is today.