Bergen Bassmasters

John Ernest - 2000 Angler of the Year

John Ernest has just completed a fantastic, record breaking Bergen season! He not only garnished the "Most Improved Angler" award , but beat out Bergen veteran Greg Trass for "Angler of the Year". Many of us want to simply know, HOW DID HE DO THAT? In actuality, John has been an active member (boater and non boater) of multiple clubs and his bassin' skills have been steadily improving. He finally put it all together in 2000 and broke the bank with over 78 pounds of bass! Here are the questions (from Bergen's Tournament Director) and the answers from the man himself:

TDQ: John, how long have you been fishing? Bass fishing? Tournament fishing?
JEA: I've been fishing my whole life, primarily salt water. I've been bass fishing for about 8 years and tournament fishing for about the same time.

TDQ: What is your largest Largemouth and smallmouth bass caught to date? When and how did you catch them?
JEA: My largest largemouth is 5 lbs 12 oz caught on a Senko in Lake Champlain during our classic last year. My largest smallmouth is 5 lbs 2 oz caught on a jig & pig on Oakridge Res.

TDQ: What were your goal (s) going into the 2000 season (John - i.e. Top Six, Top Twelve, etc.) and what made you think that you could attain this goal (s)?
JEA: My goal every year is to make the top six. I thought I could attain this goal because of the different techniques I've learned from everybody in Bergen. It was my first year as a boater and I thought that would help also.

TDQ: Did you plan to utilize some new techniques (not previously utilized) in 2000 and did you stick to this plan?
JEA: No, I didn't plan on any new techniques in 2000. After being introduced to the Senko it seemed the way to go and it worked out well.

TDQ: What about lures not previously utilized. Did you utilize something new in 2000? Were you successful with these new lures? (John you do not have to be specific - you can say soft jerk baits for Senkos)
JEA: I used more crankbaits in 2000 but they didn't produce the bigger fish for me last year.

TDQ: Did you pre-fish much and go into each tournament with a specific game plan?
JEA: I pre-fished only two tournaments (Mohawk & Hudson). I pre-fished the Mohawk because I couldn't remember it and didn't know of any hazards in the river. It definitely helped because I finished 3rd. I pre-fished the Hudson because I was so close to the top and that really paid off because I was able to capture Angler of the Year.

TDQ: During tough tournaments (such as your Greenwood tournament), to get some bass in the boat (even if they were small) , did you try something new or use any old tricks?
JEA: Greenwood Lake was a tough tournament for me and I usually do well there. I couldn't figure out the fish and my usual spots just didn't produce. I didn't try anything new, I just stuck with my strengths but couldn't get any big fish to hit.

TDQ: You had three Top Five finishes, which tournament was your most action packed? That is you culled the most bass and were in the zone nearly all day. What was your principle tactic on this day?
JEA: Twin Lakes was my most action packed. I threw a jersey rig & a tube bait. It didn't seem to matter what color the bait was, they just kept coming.

TDQ: Going into 2000, what bodies of water were your favorite (confident) and least favorite (not too confident)? Now that the trail is over, have you changed your opinion?
JEA: In 2000 my confidence lay on Greenwood Lake. It seems I usually do well there but this past year it didn't work out that way. It hasn't changed my mind about the Lake, I still love it. The Lake I didn't have too much confidence in was Lilly. Luckily I went as a non-boater and was lucky enough to get paired with Eric Lehman. We were on fish all day but couldn't get the big ones.

TDQ: Do you have any goals for the 2001 Bergen Trail?
JEA: My goal for 2001 would be to shoot for Angler of the Year, as would be any year. But with the caliber of anglers we have it's a pleasure to have been there once.

TDQ: Will you be fishing any of the NJBF point tournaments? The Team Chapter tournament on Kerr?
JEA: I will definitely be fishing the Team Tournament and will be spending a week there. As far as NJBF, maybe next year.

TDQ: As a previous non boater, what bass fishing advise can you give to our current non boaters?
JEA: The advice I can give to non-boaters is to down size and throw something different than the man in the front. But if the boater is doing well don't wait to the end of the day to change over to what he is throwing; all our boaters would be glad to share baits if they have extra.

Interviewer: Nick Albano
Created: March 9, 2001