Jim Moynagh (MOY-nuh) grew up fishing with his family on Minnesota lakes. When he was a teenager, he joined a bass-fishing club. “The first year I was in the club, I won the state competition,” he says. That success drove him to dream of fishing for a living.
After high school, Jim went to college and then worked for a book-publishing company. But all the while, he was practicing his fishing skills.
Where the Fish Hang Out
In 1995, Jim became a professional angler, competing in tournaments for a living. Each tournament begins with scouting. For three days, contestants search the lake or river for good places to fish. “I go out right at sunrise,” Jim says, “and I try to figure out where the fish are hanging out and what types of strategies are going to catch them.”
Like a detective, Jim looks for clues to lead him to the fish. Some clues are weather-related. For example, on sunny days, bass often hide in shadows made by weeds, rocks, or boat docks. When it’s cloudy, the fish might roam a short distance away from these objects. Other clues have to do with the season. In the spring, bass spawn (lay eggs) in shallow water. In the summer, they gather in deeper water, where it’s cooler. The weeds in the lake and the type of lake bottom help Jim know where to look, too.
After scouting is over, the four-day tournament starts. Contestants fish for eight to nine hours each day. Although Jim spends most of this time sitting or standing still, his mind is busy. “Every moment in that boat is spent trying to figure out the best way to catch those fish,” he says. When he catches one, it goes into a tank, called a live well, on his boat. Water is pumped from the lake into the tank to keep the fish alive.
Every afternoon, each angler weighs the five biggest bass he or she caught that day. Then all the fish are returned to the lake. At the end of the tournament, the total weight of each angler’s four-day catch is compared with those of the other contestants. The winner is the one whose 20 fish weighed the most. A smaller prize is awarded to the contestant who caught the single heaviest fish. The heaviest bass Jim ever caught in a tournament weighed 10 pounds 4 ounces. That’s like reeling in a bowling ball!
Following a Dream
In 18 years of professional fishing, Jim has won 3 major tournaments and earned 21 top-10 finishes. Winning is his goal, of course. But when he doesn’t do as well as he had hoped, he gets back in his boat and keeps on fishing. “When you have a goal or a dream in mind, go for it,” he says. “That’s what I did. But it isn’t going to fall in your lap. You have to dedicate a lot of effort to it.”
Luring the Fish
To catch a freshwater fish, anglers use many different types of lures.
When fishing in water full of lily pads and weed beds, lures that float on the surface work best.
Flies are cast with special rods and reels. Some anglers believe it takes the most skill to catch fish with a fly.
These lures are great for fishing off the back of a moving boat. They wobble like actual prey.
Anglers think these lures feel like real prey to fish. They range from worms and minnows to frogs and mice.