LINTNER LIVING LARGE AGAIN
Story by Pete Robbins - Photos by Mark Jeffreys, Matt Pangrac and Dave Rush
Arroyo Grande, CA - Jared Lintner has learned that just as easily as the tournament scene giveth, the tournament scene taketh away.
In his rookie and sophomore seasons on tour, it seemed so easy, and he coasted to berths in both the 2007 and 2008 Bassmaster Classics. But three straight misses made him realize that a spot in the world championship is not something to be taken for granted.
“After I missed it two straight seasons, that showed me how hard it is to make it and how valuable it is for your career,” he said. “Now my whole goal is to make it each year.” The 2011 season was the first stepping stone to that goal – he coasted into the Classic by finishing 22nd in the Elite Series points race.
Despite the fact that he feels like his pro fishing career is back on track, Lintner said the decision to remain on tour is one that he reevaluates annually. “I still face the decision at the end of every season,” he said. “I have three young kids and I don’t think we’ll ever move out of California. It’s expensive to stay out there. So every year we weigh the pros and the cons. I know that even though the anglers out here are extremely talented, it’s hard to take your career to the next level in the west.”
While the early career success may have jaded him about the level of competition on the Elite Series, he said that he wouldn’t be where he is today had he not done well from the get-go. “It helped me, not just the paychecks but in getting more sponsors,” he said. “If I hadn’t done well then, I wouldn’t be on the Elite Series today. If I’d only gotten one check my rookie season, there’s no way I would have put my family’s future at risk.
A Different Sort of Offseason
Some pros use the months between Elite Series seasons for sponsor appearances, for fishing local circuits or for getting in better shape…or in some cases for all of those goals. Lintner, on the other hand, knows that when he gets back to California at the end of each season the work is just beginning at his family’s dairy business.
“When I got back, my dad had just had surgery on his foot so I had to take over for him,” he said. “He’s not able to do anything for the business right now. It doesn’t allow me a lot of time to fish for fun.” On the other hand, it has taught him to value the time that he does get to spend on the water. “It makes me appreciate it more. It’s never a case of getting burned out, and I’m more fortunate than most that I have a steady paycheck.”
His lack of burnout is evident in the fact that he’s dying to get down to the Red River for a little bit of practice.
“I’m going to take a different approach this time,” he said of his third Classic appearance. “At Hartwell (in 2008) I didn’t pre-practice. I did all of my practicing over the internet. With a lake, the only thing that really changes is the water level. But this time I’m going in November. I’m told it can be a weird place to navigate, so I’m going to focus on getting into places and not wasting time.”
Likes His Chances on the Red
Lintner has yet to win at the tour level, and he’s never been to the Red River, but he’s hoping that history will repeat itself and a Californian will win consecutive Shreveport Classics. Skeet Reese, who did not qualify for the 2012 Championship, won in 2009.
“I’ve been doing this five or six years now and I haven’t won an Elite Series tournament or a Classic,” he said. “I’m not going to say that I’m due. There are a lot of guys who’ve been doing it a lot longer and haven’t won. But I can afford to take some chances. You’re not going to win a Classic by playing it safe.”
His track record on river systems is mixed. “I’ve done extremely well on some and extremely poorly on some others,” he said, but added that his strength is patterning fish in a large but confined area and then fishing it thoroughly. Based on his research into past Red River tournament results, he believes that talent, as well as his ability to fish in a crowd, will work in his favor.
The Red “seems like it’s getting better each year,” he said, based on his review of tournament records, and while a big weight tournament wouldn’t hurt his feelings, he believes his best results come when nature throws a curveball of some sort. “I prefer a grinding type deal,” he said. “In a slugfest, where everybody’s whacking them, it comes down to who gets a few big bites. When the bite’s kind of tough, if you can figure out a little something it can give you a huge advantage.”
Back to Basics
Lintner attributes his success – six checks in eight Elite Series events, including a 4th place finish at West Point – to a new mental approach.
“Toward the end of my third year (on tour), the first year I didn’t make the Classic, I had a real negative attitude,” he said. “The next year I went back and forth. But I told my wife going into this year that if I wasn’t having fun, I’m not going to do it. When I’m out there, I miss my wife and I miss my kids.
“My attitude was that I’m going to go out and just try to catch fish. No dock talk. No lake reports. I had a lot of fun.”
The season started off with two checks in Florida, despite the fact that he fished by the seat of his pants at both events. “At the Harris Chain, I wasn’t on anything in practice,” he said. “I had ten rods on the deck and no idea what I was going to do so I just fished as if I was fun fishing. Then at the St. Johns, I fished like I would back home (on Clear Lake).”
Even his worst tournament of the year, a 75th place finish at Toledo Bend, wasn’t enough to knock him off track. “I was disappointed only because I couldn’t catch quality,” he said. I was catching 30 fish a day fishing big fish baits – swimbaits, a frog, flipping and bed fishing. And I was running water, trying to make things happen.” That positive mojo carried him into the next event at West Point, where he made his lone top twelve cut of the year and had his best Elite Series finish (4th) since the Amistad tournament in March of 2009 (3rd).
Now he’s hoping he can move up three more spots in his next tournament, in Shreveport. Even that finish might not end his year-to-year deliberations, but it would strongly tilt the scales in favor of more time as an angler, less time delivering milk.