No Place Like Home: Luke Clausen

Professional angler Luke Clausen is one of just five anglers in the world to have won the Forrest Wood Cup and the Bassmaster Classic. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, he credits his success with being from the west coast and fishing throughout the southwest and California as he advanced through the ranks.  After traveling the country with a brief period living in the southeast, he is happy being back on the home. I sat down with Luke to see what makes anglers from the west unique, why they seem to do so well on the national tours, what his favorite western fisheries are and also about the challenges of fishing a major professional tour thousands of miles away from home.

Techniques and Innovation in the West

As much as we hear “a bass is a bass, no matter where it lives”, there are still major differences between the different parts of the country and more often than not - the newest techniques and products seem to come from the west. “In the south, bass fishing is more of a cultural thing, where it seems like the west is just now becoming more of a ‘cool thing’ to do and gaining more popularity. When you are fishing in the south, you see everyone bass fishing either in bass boats, kayaks, aluminum boats or inner tubes; it is just what everyone does back there” says Clausen.

While the per capita amount of bass fishermen is much less in the west, the innovation, technology and many new techniques all seem to originate from the west and always have. As he has traveled the country, he is always checking out the latest west coast trends in swimbaits, finesse fishing and anything else that may give him an advantage when competing nationally. “The things guys are doing here in the west continue to amaze me. I would say I have definitely brought more things from the west to the east than I have brought home from back there,” acknowledges the FLW Tour pro.

The Logistics

Competing on the FLW Tour provides a logistic challenge no matter where you live. Successfully arranging travel, pre-fish times and accommodations takes planning and organization to do it right. Add to the fact that western pros need a few additional steps to make it possible, it is a task just preparing for the season when you factor in plane travel and storage for a boat and truck when you return home. “This year I am going to make twelve flights back and forth just to be able to fish all of the FLW Tour events, the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and time to pre fish the lakes. That doesn’t even include any sponsor obligations or events like the Bassmaster Classic and ICAST,” says Clausen.

When flying back and forth across the country, Clausen and other western pros rely on their network of friends as places to store their rigs and will often leave them at the airport with all gear safely locked inside of the truck. “I have left my rig for weeks at hotels, friend’s houses and airports. I think airports are generally a safe place to keep your stuff and that works great if you have nowhere else to keep it,” says the Washington pro. Besides just getting to a tournament from the west coast, preparing tackle is almost a full-time job during the offseason. “The hardest thing is the organization and carrying enough tackle to get you by for all of the different places we fish. You always end up with either not enough or way too much of something and I always have so much tackle at the end of the year, because I’ll order things from sponsors or buy things along the way,” shares Clausen.

Top Picks from the West

As we all know, there have been some top national pros who have roots in the west, so what makes them so good? “The biggest thing is the diversity, I know that is what everyone says that, but if you can fish Lake Mead, then the Delta and then a place like the Columbia River and do well on all of them, you can compete anywhere. Those places are so different and some of the guys who have went on to the national tours have found a way to do well on all of those places,” says Clausen. Among his favorite of all waters on the west coast is Clear Lake, a lake where he won an EverStart series event in 2003 before his Forrest Wood Cup and Bassmaster Classic wins. "Some of the western guys don’t realize how lucky they are to have Clear Lake in the region,” laughs Clausen.

Besides Clear Lake, his other two favorite bodies of water on the west coast are Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and the Columbia River along the Washington and Oregon border. “Those two are the ones I get to fish the most when I am home and they are really some of the best fisheries in the whole country. Coeur d’Alene is very close to where I live and the amount of huge largemouth and smallmouth is just crazy. The Columbia has some of the best smallmouth fishing in the world, plus all of the great fishing for walleye, salmon and steelhead and sturgeon,” says Clausen.

Luke Clausen is one of the many professional anglers who have made the journey across the country to compete on the national tours and even with his success and career being across the country, he is still very proud of the west coast bass fishing scene. He would love to see the FLW Tour or Bassmaster Elite Series return to the west and especially the Pacific Northwest to showcase the excellent fishing in the region. “There is no place like home and I am definitely a west coast guy,” says Clausen.

Photo Credits: FLW Outdoors