Don’t let those high heels fool you: Laura Ann is hooked on bass fishing!
So Laura, I’m sure there are hundreds of things people want to know about you, but let’s start simple: Why do you fish?
OK well I’ve fished my whole life with my family for crappie, bass and bayfishing for redfish/speckled trout in the gulf, but it was “princess fishing” where someone else sets everything up for you. I’m blessed to have a family that loves to fish. Growing up most of my time was spent competing in softball, gymnastics, cheerleading, and track. I have only been competing in bass fishing for a year and half now. In 2012 I went fishing with my uncle who was practicing for a tournament on Lake Eufaula and I caught an 8.5 pound bass. I was hooked! I went to the Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa and was amazed by how big and competitive the sport of bass fishing is and can say it was one of the best weeks of my life. I made so many friends and actually met kids in Tulsa my age from my area that were there cheering on Gerald Swindle. They were competing in ASABFA high school tournaments back home and invited me to come see their weigh in on Smith Lake. I was blown away seeing over 200 boats competing that day and decided I wanted to join them. So I joined a junior bass club, started competing in local Fishers of Men Legacy tournaments with my friend Darien Craig and with my mom’s help started a bass fishing team at my high school. My first FOM tournament on Neely Henry we zeroed and it crushed me. It made me want to get back out there and figure out how to catch them even more. My first junior bass tournament I caught the big fish on Guntersville and it showed me I could do this. I’m still learning and trying to build my skills. I don’t have a big win yet but I have a lot of top ten finishes. I know I have a long way to go but I love it so much and I learn with every day on the water. There’s just nothing like the thrill you get when you feel that bass take your bait!
What do you do in the summer when it’s been hot and you suddenly are faced with a cold snap that drops the temp 15-20 degrees?
I move to reaction baits: jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, stuff like that. Sometimes I don’t switch like I should and I’ll stay where I caught them the day before, but I think it’s because I just don’t think as clearly in tournament situations.
Well we’ve all had fish from practice disappear come tournament time. It’s not easy to leave, you keep thinking they’ll turn on eventually.
So who do you practice with?
I have a 10 year old little brother, Nick, who goes to practice with me sometimes but he’s not really that into fishing. Most of my friends are cheerleaders. They go sometimes with their boyfriends who fish but they really don’t understand why I want to and why I spend so much time doing it. I’ve recently gotten my best friend, Macon, into fishing and now she wants to compete on her high school team. Probably the one I practice with the most though is my Mom. She’s the captain and my biggest supporter.
Why does it seem like you’re always smiling?
My friends on my fishing team always make me smile, we have so much fun together. My boyfriend Dakota also puts a smile on my face.
Does he fish too?
He doesn’t tournament fish, but he supports my fishing which is what is important. He is a bow hunter and likes to bow-fish. He drove over an hour to a weigh-in just to meet me for the first time. He comes to all my weigh-ins and helps me prep my tackle before tournaments. A guy doesn’t have to be a fisherman to date me but they have to give me the freedom to fish when and with whom I want. I’m more cautious about guys who fish. I’ve had issues in the past with guys wanting to go out with me just because I fish or to try to get sponsored by the companies that sponsor me.
Sounds like you’re quite the catch! Do you do any hunting?
I love to both duck and deer hunt. I go with my grandfather and I got my first 6 pointer this past year.
We all have some really weird stories from tournaments we’ve fished and you just might have the funniest I’ve ever heard!
Its one of those crazy stories. I wanted to fish the tournament and had originally signed up but our school cheer squad was competing in our county championship that day so I couldn’t. My partner Jon-Halston was competing with another teammate but the night before he was injured in a football game. So because I had originally signed up they allowed me to step in so he wouldn’t be dq’d. I started the tournament that morning, left around 9 to go compete at the cheer comp which we won and then went right back to the water to finish the tournament. We didn’t win but it was a great experience.
Are you superstitious?
I’m not really superstitious, the most important ritual for me is to say my prayer before launch asking the Lord to bless our day.
No lucky hat or shirt?
The only item I wear every time I fish is my Big Bite Baits buff. I do have my favorite tournament foods/drinks: a pack of chocolate donuts and Mountain Dew for breakfast and teriyaki Jack Links Jerky with Lime Cucumber Gatorade on the boat.
If I didn’t know any better I’d swear you learned your dietary habits for fishing from John Mcgoey! Are there any pros that you do seek advice from?
Most of the Elite Pros that I know I met working with my sponsors at events and they include Russ Lane, Jeff Kriet, Dean Rojas, Gerald Swindle, Aaron Martens, Ish Monroe and John Crews. All great guys that I know very well but all extremely busy guys! I met Randy Howell at a tournament last year and then had an opportunity to work a charity event for the Kings Home with him. He came to one of our High School team meetings to give us advice and then we got to cheer him on in person at the Classic. Randy is the pro that I admire the most because he has his priorities right and is such a great genuine guy who uses his fame to help others. I don’t really talk to any Elite guys on a regular basis except for Russ Lane who is always willing to give me advice on upcoming tournaments. I’ve never had the opportunity to fish with any Elite Pros, but I hope to soon at some media days with my sponsors. I do get to fish with a lot of great college anglers and friends who fish BASSNation, BASS Opens and FLW Rayovacs. The 4 people that I have learned from the most are my friend Darien Craig who is currently fishing the opens, My “fishing daddy” Mark Gore who is currently fishing the FLW Rayovacs, my uncle Scott who fishes the ABT and FLW events and my Poppa Dennis.
Favorite is hard because its a tie between Eufaula and Guntersville. I love them both.
One place you would go if you could pick anywhere in the world?
I wish I could fish Lake Fort that place is amazing!
And the one place that kicks your butt?
I hate Neely Henry it has my number although I am finally getting better there.
Flipping a jig.
Where do you go from here?
My current plan is to fish high school tournaments the next two years while fishing with as many people as I can including doing some BASS nation qualifiers and BASS opens as a coangler to help me learn techniques from the best. I hope to fish on a college team and major in graphic art design. When I’m ready I hope to fish the opens as a boater and earn my way into the Elites. Whatever the Lords will is for my life I know I want to work in the fishing industry and hopefully it will be with a rod in my hand.
We’ll be following along…good luck!