Jason Christie has been a bass fisherman for more than 35 years, long enough that he can’t remember his first largemouth or even his first bass tournament, but chances are the Yamaha Pro won’t soon forget his Bassmaster® Elite victory on the Sabine River in Texas this past April.
During the four-day event, Christie ran approximately 70 miles each day to a tiny, remote creek where he could throw his spinnerbait or flip visible cover for four hours before beginning the long, tortuous run back to the weigh-in. There were no places to re-fuel along the way, so he was limited to 40 gallons of gasoline for the round-trip. That was only one of several on-going challenges he faced.
On the third day of competition, the river rose six feet and completely flooded the visible cover he’d been targeting. Christie had been leading the tournament since the second day, but just barely; entering the final day his lead had fallen to only 15 ounces.
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Sticking with a bold plan, but making key adjustments was the winning formula for Jason Christie of Park Hill, Okla., whose four-day total of 43 pounds, 15 ounces topped the Dovetail Games Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River sponsored by Bassmaster Fishing 2022 – the official video game of B.A.S.S.
Claiming his sixth Bassmaster victory, Christie posted his best effort on Day 1 with a second-place limit of 15-1. He took over the top spot on Friday by adding 13-14 and held that position on Day 3 with a limit of 6-12. He closed the deal with a Championship Sunday limit that weighed 8-4.
After entering the final round with a 15-ounce lead over Day 1 leader Brock Mosley, Christie edged Mosley by a margin of 1-6.
For four days, Christie committed the majority of his time to a narrow creek about two hours upriver from takeoff. Locating the spot in practice, Christie recognized its mix of shallow wood and cut banks as prime bass habitat, while the distant run discouraged all but one competitor from fishing the area.
“There’s a lot of backwaters downriver from this area, but then there’s like a 20-mile stretch where there’s nothing until you get to this spot,” Christie said. “The first two days of the event it was super treacherous to run; there were logs, sandbars, stuff like that. That’s what kept people from going up there."
By: Pete Robbins
Normally Jason Christie’s offseason would focus on deer hunting and family, and when he’s locked in on a particular deer it becomes an all-encompassing pursuit. This year, however, was quite different.
“I’ve been hunting a deer, one where we know each other by name, and I found myself in the stand looking at Google Earth images of the Sabine River,” said the 2020 Bassmaster Central Opens points champion. “I never do that.”
Indeed, while measures related to COVID-19 have not substantially altered the veteran Park Hill, Okla., pro’s life – “When I’m home, I have quarantined for 47 years,” he said – two years away from Bassmaster Elite Series competition has made him yearn to correct missed opportunities. During three past Elite trips to the Sabine he never finished better than 69th. For an angler who has been in the money three-quarters of the time elsewhere, that’s an aberration that needs to be corrected when he returns as a second-time first-year Elite in 2021.
As much as I love to compete on the Bassmaster Elite Series, it is nice to bring it down a few notches and enjoy a more relaxed element of the fishing industry. I got a good dose of this over the Labor Day weekend during the Jason Christie Children’s Fishing Derby, which was part of the Cherokee National Holiday.
This annual event brings together all the Cherokee tribes and visitors from all over to the Cherokee Nation capital in Tahlequah, Okla. There are all kinds of activities from softball and volleyball tournaments, to arts and crafts, a rodeo, an inter-tribal powwow – something for everybody.
We’ve been doing the kids fishing event for several years and although it started out as a tournament, that got to be a little difficult to manage. Instead we’ve made it a fun fishing event where kids get to tug on a few fish and enjoy it all at their own pace. Jimmy Houston comes out and interacts with the kids and adults, and it all seemed to go really well.
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You might think that with the first Elite event of 2018 in the books that I’ll be shifting gears into 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods mode. That’s not incorrect, but it’s not something that’s on my to-do list — we’re already there.
In fact, the thinking and planning started as soon as I left Lake Martin. Not that you wouldn’t always be planning for the next event, but this one’s different. It’s the Classic, so the focus is even more intense.
Dateline: Elite One
“…I’m not sure but I think it came down to one fish…”
Second place in 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year
I am not a fan of point systems in sports....
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Most of the time, we talk about staying near the bait. You find the food and the fish are going to be somewhere close. Well, this winter has had such a strong impact that I’m taking a different approach.
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By Todd Ceisner
This time around, Jason Christie is hoping an old-school approach leads to a different outcome.
When the Bassmaster Classic makes its second stop in 4 years at Grand Lake next March, Christie won’t be staying at a lavish lake house with a large group of people like he did in 2013. He plans on roughing it BFL-style, just like the earlier days of his tournament career.
“I’ve got a buddy who has a 10-by-10 apartment in his garage and that’s where I’m going to stay,” Christie said. “I just want to limit the distractions and focus on what’s in front of me.”
As he sees it, what’s in front of him will be a prime shot at redemption, a second chance to make a lasting impression in an event where anything short of winning is considered a failure. It’s all part of a different tactical approach Christie is taking as he prepares for his fourth career Classic.
The Garmin marine pro team is expanding! Jason Christie, the number one ranked bass fisherman in the world, and Greg Hackney, the 2014 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, join a host of fishermen that will be representing Garmin and its new line of sonar and GPS devices designed specifically for freshwater anglers across the B.A.S.S. Elite Series and FLW Tour bass fishing circuits in 2015.
In the last five years, professional angler Jason Christie has had five wins on a national level with a career total of 10 FLW wins and three B.A.S.S. Elite wins. A native of Oklahoma, Christie currently holds the number one BassFan World Ranking for the second consecutive year.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Garmin team,” said Christie. “In our profession, seeing is believing and from what I’ve seen – especially the clear fish returns and precise map detail – I know Garmin is going to give me the competitive advantage on the water.”
Read more of the press release here.
Visit Garmin Marine for product availability and information.
By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Jason Christie has pocketed nearly $360,000 from FLW Tour events over the past 2 seasons, plus another $22,500 from the Forrest Wood Cup. Nonetheless, it's very likely that he'll forego that circuit in 2015 to spend more time with his family and focus his competitive energy on the Bassmaster Elite Series.
"Nothing's for sure yet, but there's a 90-percent chance I'll be fishing the Elite Series, the (Major League Fishing) Selects and one division of the (Bassmaster) Opens," said the Oklahoman who's spending his second straight offseason atop the BassFan World Rankings. "I'll probably jackpot a Rayovac and some other events here and there.
"It's going to be hard because FLW is where my career started and it'll always hold a special place for me. The following year, if the schedules line up right, I'll probably start fishing both again, but everything this year is pointing toward sitting one out. I think I'd be really fighting it trying to fish both.
"If you could fish them both without the schedule being just crazy, I'd do it," he continued. "I think a lot of people would."
Narrower Focus Needed
Christie was the most consistent of the 14 competitors who fished both major circuits this year, averaging a 30th-place finish across 14 events. He made four final-day appearances (including his victory at the Lake Dardanelle Elite Series) and ended up 6th in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) race and 15th on the Elite side.
This year's schedule wasn't any easier than next year's in terms of events stacked on top of one another in the spring, but there's a big hitch in 2015 – the Elite Series' first visit to the West since 2010. Back-to-back derbies at the Sacramento River in California and Lake Havasu in Arizona are sandwiched directly between the FLW Tour stops at Beaver Lake (Arkansas) and Lake Eufaula (Alabama).
With three athletically active daughters at home (the oldest is a sophomore in high school and the youngest is in 3rd grade), Christie has become increasingly unwilling to spend the bulk of the year on the road.
"I want to be around more for them," he said. "For me, the longest days on the water are practice days when my wife calls and tells me one of the kids hit a home run or made a key basket or something like that. It's not as bad when it happens on a tournament day, but in practice it makes for hard times.
"Another key thing is my dad and I fished a lot when I was growing up, but since I started fishing professionally he's pretty much given it up. He's due to retire real soon and I want to spend some time fishing and hunting with him."
From a professional perspective, winning an Elite Series AOY has become his primary goal. Had Greg Hackney not done it last year, he wouldn't have believed it was possible while fishing both tours.
"He proved me wrong about that, but to me, it's hard to stay up for that many tournaments. I want to take this next year and focus on one tour and prepare for each event instead of just showing up on the first day of practice and going fishing. It might not work and I might find out that the other way is best.
"If you look back at my career, as the year goes on, I usually have a poor finish or two in the late summer (he was a season-worst 77th at Cayuga Lake this year). I like fishing in the late summer and I've had some good finishes, but I think you lose a little bit of that edge you had in the spring when you're all fired up to get out there. When you fish as much as I have the last 2 years, I think it sets you up to get burned out."
A Collaborative Call
Christie didn't arrive at his near-certain decision to scale back his schedule on his own.
"I talked it over with my wife and she wanted me to do whatever I felt like I needed to do, but deep down I know she's happy with it," he said. "I also talked it over with my sponsors and all of them are good with it, so that makes me feel good. The last few years I felt like I sacrificed quite a bit to put myself out there and fish as much as I did.
"I don't want to use the term 'slacking off,' but I think I need to trim it down a little bit so I can focus more and try to get rid of those one or two poor finishes per year."
Next year's Classic will take place at South Carolina's Lake Hartwell, which was the site of his first tour-level victory in 2011. A win there would make the season an instant success.
"The Classic and the Angler of the Year are at the top of my list now. Winning (regular-season) tournaments is awesome and I've never experienced anything else like it, but those two things are why we do what we do.
"As far as our families sacrificing, that's what it's all about."
> Having a boat for each tour and flying between stops to cut down on travel time is not an option Christie is willing to undertake in order to fish both circuits. "It's hard enough to organize and maintain one boat, much less two," he said.