June 22, 2017 by STEVE KNIGHT, steve@texasalloutdoors
Ryan Cannon did not waste much time breaking into the win column in the pro bass fishing ranks.
Fishing in just his fourth FLW Tour event the Bullard fisherman won the co-angler division of the circuit’s Potomac River tournament out of La Crosse, Wisconsin last week. Cannon ended the two-day co-angler portion of the event with 33 pounds, 6 ounces, three pounds better than the second-place finisher.
“I was pretty fortunate. I really surprised myself. Co-angler is hit and miss. You have to have the skills, but you are subject to whether your pro is on fish or not,” Cannon said.
Introduced to tournament fishing in his teens by his father, David, Cannon looked at this season on the FLW Tour more as a learning experience rather than his coming out as a touring pro. The East Texas angler fished the last four tournaments of the FLW Tour’s seven events this year competing first at Cumberland Lake, Kentucky, where he learned what it is like to fish out of the back of the boat in an individual tournament as compared to the team events he typically fishes.
“It is not like running a trolling motor fishing around here in team tournaments. They are not trying to stop you from catching fish, but they are also not up there to help you catch fish,” Cannon said of his first outing where, for the lack of a better term, found himself being front-ended by a pro fisher with the front of the boat nosed toward shore.
“The reason I came out here is to learn, and it is something I always wanted to see if I wanted to do. Once I took that approach, everything was a blast,” Cannon said of the transition to co-angler.
The Kentucky tournament was also his introduction to smallmouth bass, a fish that easily takes a bait, but can be much more acrobatic than a largemouth bass. Cannon described them as “pretty easy to catch, but the second you hook one they are on top of the water and won’t stay down. They will drive you crazy in a tournament.”
From there he traveled to Beaver Lake in Arkansas and then to Wisconsin and Pools 7, 8 and 9 on the Mississippi River. Accustomed to constant-level lakes in East Texas the mighty Mississippi was an eye-opening experience.
“If I had gone to the Mississippi by myself I would have never caught a fish,” the 38-year-old said.
However, as a fishing pro, like catching smallmouths it is something he has to do.
“If they are not fishing in Texas or Florida they are on a river. It seems a little overwhelming at first, but now that I have seen a little of it is not that bad. It is going to be an adjustment,” Cannon noted.
For his win on the Potomac, Cannon drew veteran pro Pete Cherkas of Iowa the first day and Anthony Gagliardi the second. He said it was a case where his skills met luck because both of the pros were in fish. He just had to do his part and catch limits.
On the river, Cannon said the smallmouth population basically consists of bass weighing 2.25 to 3 pounds. To stand out in a crowd the key is to find a bigger fish each day. Pitching a Texas-rigged Gary Yamamoto Senko into holes in the grass and around stumps he had a 4.8 the first day and a 4.4 the second to go with a bunch of 3-pounders.
“I caught quite a few fish. I caught between 10 and 15 each day. I culled two or three times each day. I didn’t burn through a lot of big fish,” Cannon said.
The angler said living and fishing in East Texas is good for earning tournament-honed experience because he is constantly competing against others who could potentially compete with the pros.
“I am not best fisherman around here, but I can hold my own,” he said. His strength is that if he is in fish, whether from the front or the back of the boat, he believes he can adapt to the conditions to catch them whether it be with soft plastics, jigs or crankbaits.
“If I am around fish I can catch them,” he said.
His weakness, he has quickly learned, is finesse fishing. Prior to the four FLW events he had never owned a spinning rod and certainly hadn’t fished 8-pound test line.
Cannon’s learning curve on the road is being made a little easier with the help of two other Texas FLW pros, Jeff Sprague and Jason Reyes. They have taken him under their wing and helped him maneuver some of the pitfalls that await newcomers on tour.
“I am lucky to have two guys to travel with. From them I have learned what being a pro is like and what it takes to prepare for their day. I listen to the dock talk and how they are going to approach the day,” he said.
Cannon said he is a competitive person who likes to prove himself against the best. What he likes about the individual competition of a pro tour is that with constantly fishing different lakes, starting with the first three days of practice fishing everyone is pretty much equal when it comes to knowing the water. Beginning on Day 1 of competition it is skill vs. skill.
With a $20,000 championship check in his pocket Cannon said it is tempting to pay the additional entry fee next year and fish the front of the boat as a pro. Instead, he is trying to stay reserved and put the win in perspective.
“I can’t really let the success go to my head. It is great and I am thankful for the support I have gotten, but I know a lot of it was the luck of whom I drew. I could have drawn a guy that was not on fish and ended up in 90th,” Cannon said.
Another consideration is cost. Right now Cannon is fishing out of his own pocket with some support from his family’s business, Tyler’s Cannon Steel. To campaign a full season is said to cost in excess of $50,000. That kind of expense would require some serious industry sponsors, something one co-angler win is not going to yield.
With the off-season to decide he is leaning toward going co-angler again said he can watch and learn from the pros he draws, but expand himself by fishing the entire season plus trailering his own boat to events to participating in the three days of practice to learn more about that angle of an event.
After this year though Cannon’s rookie card shows four events entered and one win. And that will never change.
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Originally published on Texas All Outdoors by Steve Knight- June 22, 2017- Direct Link