Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 11/14/2017

Story by Matt Pangrac

Moore, OK - Last month, The BASS ZONE ran a feature story titled “The BFL Connection.”   The article highlighted the Elite Series pros from the 2017 season that had recorded at least one BFL win over the course of their careers and looked at the correlation between success at the regional level and success at the national level.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.  

Out of the 32 Elite Series pros with a BFL win, New York’s Jamie Hartman led the way with an incredible seven BFL wins between 2007 and 2015.  Along with the victories, Hartman posted 35 Top 10 finishes in BFL competition between 2004 and 2016.   

While Hartman didn’t record a win during his rookie season on the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2017, he did continue to knock out Top 10 finishes at an astonishing pace, starting with a 2nd place finish on Cherokee Lake in the very first Elite Series stop this past season in Tennessee.   

He would go on to finish in 3rd place at Toledo Bend,   6th place at Lake Dardanelle, 7th place at the St. Lawrence River, and 6th place at Lake St. Clair – setting the Elite Series record for Top 10 finishes by a rookie with five.  

When it was all said and done, Hartman ended the 2017 Elite Series season in 13th place in the Toyota Angler Of the Year point standings and fell just one point short of the Rookie Of the Year title which was won by Dustin Connell.  

“The only tournament that bugged me was Cherokee (Lake) because I truly thought that I had that one won,” explained Hartman.  “Other than that, I felt like I was fortunate to end up as high as I did in my other Top 10 finishes.  I was never on the winning pattern or the winning fish.  It all came down to grinding out a fish here or there.”  

While Hartman made the five Top 10 finishes seem easy, he logged thousands of miles behind the wheel and spent dozens of days on the water preparing for his rookie season.  With the exception of the Angler Of the Year Championship on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota, Hartman spent at least a week pre-practicing for each tournament on the 2017 schedule.  

“I knew that so many of the guys had been to the lakes on the (2017) schedule before, so I didn’t see how there was any way I could just show up for two-and-a-half days of official practice and expect to compete.  Before the season started, I knew that I had to get to these lakes during pre-practice and really learn them.”  

The learning curve was steep for Hartman, who outside of several championship tournaments, had never fished outside of the Northeast prior to the start of the season.

“I had so much invested in this season and I didn’t want to waste my money or look like a fool.  I’m all about competition, so I decided that if I was going to compete, I was going to do it at the top level that I possibly could.”  

He credits his ability to “grind out” Top 10 finishes to the fact that he understood each fishery on the schedule due to his pre-practice and didn’t panic when an obvious pattern didn’t come together during the official practice days leading up to the tournament.    

“It boiled down to the fact that I knew areas where I could get bit and I had an understanding of where the fish lived,” Hartman explained.  “I just went out there and tried to make the right decisions.  The fact that I’d spent time on the fishery before the cut off really allowed me to stay calm and fish my butt off.  If I hadn’t done the homework, I think that I would have spun out in a lot more of the tournaments.”  

During pre-practice, Hartman said that he takes meticulous notes and often spends the time to punch in notes on his graph.  “Every lake gets saved on a chip and every lake is separated.  When I load my graphs, I have that lake specifically with a lot of notes that I have made.  Once I leave the lake, I start over fresh and erase it from my mind so I can concentrate on one lake at a time.  It’s very hard to try to predict what’s going to happen during the tournament when I’m practicing months ahead.  The fact is that I’m guessing with a lot of it, but I’ve learned to make the adjustments.”  

With a successful rookie season under his belt, Hartman is already preparing for the 2018 season.  Even though November less than half over, he has pre-practiced on four of the fisheries on the upcoming Elite Series schedule, and has also put in time on Lake Hartwell pre-practicing for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic this upcoming March.  “If I don’t feel comfortable when I sit down and go over all my notes, I’ll probably hit some of them again before cut off,” he concluded.