BEHIND THE GRIND: Justin Lucas

Let’s celebrate the hardest workers we know. At OXX our products are built tough to get the job done. We are inspired by the people that put in the time and effort to do things the right way. Whether they’re in the shop, on the job site, or in the field they continue to define hard work. We want to know what fuels them, how they got where they are now, and uncover what happens behind the grind. They are the leaders of the Herd, and these are their stories.

Waking up before the sunrise to get out on the water requires two things: willpower and a lot of coffee. Justin Lucas is one of the top Bass Fishermen in the nation, but the journey to the top hasn’t been easy. From growing up and learning from his grandfather to competing as a professional amongst legends, Justin’s story is beyond rugged. He gave us an inside look at the hard work that goes into being a champion.

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How did you get started as a professional angler?
I got started fishing when I was 11 years old, growing up in Sacremento California. Started getting into tournaments when I was 12 or 13. My grandpa took me fishing when I was growing up and we won some tournaments and I didn’t know that he was putting money away from me, when I was 17 I had saved up enough money to buy a boat and he handed me a check and I bought a boat. I had a boat in high school and it was a total piece of crap but it worked and floated and that was all that mattered. It got me on the water.

I got into some tournaments with people my age, won a boat when I was 19. My friend and I sold it, split the money. Then we got to fish in some bigger tournaments, won 5 times as an amateur before I went pro in 2010. 2010 first year fishing as a pro, and I moved to Alabama when I was 24. Didn’t know I’d be there, trying to make fishing a career. Was part of the FLW tour until 2013, then I went into the Bassmaster Elite Series and I’ve won two tournaments since then.

Your career as a professional fisherman takes a lot of dedication, how do you define hard work?

This year I heard the best quote ever from Michael Phelps commercial, “It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.” People see me now and they think “You’re a professional fisherman” but since I was a kid I knew that if I was going to be a better fisherman I had to sacrifice a lot of other things and dedicate my time to that. I had a ton of different jobs, my first job was working at a pumpkin patch when I was 14 just to make some money and buy some lures and then go fishing on the weekend with my grandpa. Hard work is all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. When people see you on the cover of a magazine they think one thing, but they don’t think about the travel and being away from home, I’m away from home 215 days out of the year.

Practicing whether it’s raining, snowing, ice cold, two years ago I had a tournament and it was 9 degrees. You’re out there practicing and its 20 degrees and we’re out there for 12 hours. That’s the stuff people don’t see.

Who inspires you?

The guys that I have looked up to are the professionals that come out of California, obviously fishing is very southern located and make huge sacrifices that travel so far to come out east.

I look at some of the veterans of the sport and I think of them as incredible fishermen. I always feel as though I’m not good enough to be competing against them, but that makes me work even harder. It makes me stay out an hour longer than anyone else, fish from 5:30 am til 9 at night, however long the day is night. That’s how long I’ll be out there. In the winter I spend 4-6 weeks prepping for the coming season. They probably look at me like I’m this young kid, but I see them as inspiration.

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What does a typical day look like for you when you go out on the water?
You better like mornings if you want to fish. Everyone knows you gotta get out in the morning if you want any bites. On an average morning, you’re waking up from 4 to 5 o’clock for practice and get out the door before it’s light, always have a cup of coffee. I can’t imagine starting the day fishing without a cup of coffee. Get out on the water, and then I don’t get off until it’s dark. Those are long days.

If you’re not out there, practicing and experiencing that body of water I’m gonna have more time on there than you and in a tournament if it comes down to one more fish, that practice is gonna pay off for that one bite.

What was one of your proudest moments?
Without a doubt my first professional win. I’d been consistent but I had never won, and last year I went to CA for a tournament in the CA Delta which is where I had grown up fishing, and where I grew up. I didn’t have a good practice, didn’t think I’d have a chance. My Grandpa who I’m so close with, he’s too old to come out and visit me at these other tournaments but this was probably five miles from where he lives. To have him there, and my family it was really special. I lost a tournament before in 2012 by 3 ounces. I always thought, Man why. Why’d I have to lose by 3 ounces. But now I know it was because I was supposed to win that first one at home last year. The river we were running down, I used to ride on the schoolbus and look at that river on the way to school.

What is the best part of the job?
I think it says something when you have a lot of friends on tour. A lot of guys come out and they’re really cutthroat and there for themselves, but I enjoy making the friendships. When it’s all said and done I wanna be able to call the guys and talk about what we went out and did 30 years ago.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your lifetime? Go anywhere/catch anything?
I’m a bass fisherman at heart. It’s my dream to take a trip down to the amazon and fish for peacock bass. We don’t really have them here, it’s the ultimate bass fisherman’s trip. Bassmaster classic and angler of the year are the titles I’d like to get as far as my fishing career.

How do you take your coffee?
I do the grass fed butter and some MCT oil. Maybe a little cinnamon on top.

If you had to give advice to aspiring anglers what would you say?

Even though I’m on the professional level, there are days when we go out there and only catch one or two or maybe even no fish. But to me, it’s important to have those days because they make you appreciate the days when you go out there and it feels like they are jumping in the boat. Never let a bad fishing day get you down because the next time you go out is going to be different. Wear the bad days on your sleeve.

 

You can connect with Justin on Facebook here. You can also read more about his story on his website here.