Eric Johnson is an accomplished Virginia bass angler. He loves fishing Lake Anna for tournaments and Chickahominy River for fun. We talk to him about both as well as his trip to Lake Okeechobee where he caught his personal best largemouth.
How long have you been fishing?
I have been fishing for as long as I could hold a fishing rod. My earliest memories are fishing farm ponds with my dad and taking his 14 feet. Jon Boat out to Lake Anna when there used to be a free public boat landing in the Pamunkey Arm of the lake. Back then we never caught a whole lot but it was these memories with my dad that I will never forget.
What drives your passion for bass fishing?
I played baseball growing up here in Virginia and it brought out my competitive side. I hurt my arm shortly after graduating high school and had to give the sport up. I have always enjoyed fishing but decided to take that drive and passion I had for baseball growing up and put all of that into fishing.
Bass fishing is a hobby of mine because there is always room to learn and grow in the sport. It keeps you on your toes because each day is a different day and you always have to figure them out. You also meet a lot of people that have the same drive and passion as you have for bass fishing and you are able to build relationships with these individuals that you would have never met if you didn’t enjoy fishing. Bass fishing is a great community of people.
I see that you fish a lot with your dad. What has he taught you about fishing?
My dad is the person that introduced me to fishing. He has taught me so much about fishing growing up. He taught me how to use a baitcaster, tie different knots, what lines to use, etc.
As I have gotten older he has taught me things such as to always learn something from an outing of fishing; whether you catch a bunch or not. Fishing has always been that time when it can be just me and him trying to figure out how to catch more fish and not worrying about everyday life. Memories and bonding that will last a lifetime and one day hope to share these same memories with my son.
Before we get to your Virginia bass fishing, how was your trip to Okeechobee with your dad?
It was awesome to get out on a famed body of water like Okeechobee and try to catch one of those giants that live there. It was a trip we had planned for over a year when the family started making plans to go to Disney. My dad and I said we had to take a day out of the trip to visit Okeechobee; the rest of the family was all for it knowing how much we both love fishing.
We had a great day with really good weather. We caught between 20 to 30 fish with most of them being small but we did manage a couple four and a half pound fish and my new PB at 8 pounds and 4 ounces. It is one of those days that’ll be etched in my memory forever.
Who was your guide?
We used Dave Schneider from Hooksetter Adventures. He has his own YouTube channel called “It’s a Guide’s Life” and posts a lot on all of his adventures. He was a great guide and kept us both entertained all day. I would definitely recommend Dave to anyone if they are planning a trip to Okeechobee.
What is your favorite Virginia water to fish in a tournament?
My favorite would be Lake Anna because it is my home lake and it’s where I learned to fish. It is a unique fishery in that you can go down the lake and fish clear water and you can run up the rivers to fish stained water. A lot of tactics can put you on the winning fish.
What are three rods and baits that you always have on deck for Lake Anna on tournament day?
6″10″ medium St. Croix shakey head spinning rod – 3/16th ounce shakey head and Bass Assassin Tapout Worm. – This is a tough combination to beat on Lake Anna any time of the year. It’s versatile in that you can fish it 30 feet down lake or pitch to a stump up lake in 2 feet of water. My keys for success with this outfit would be to make it look as natural as possible. Let the bait fall of a slack line, don’t move it to much, etc. Keep it natural!
7’0″ medium heavy St. Croix casting rod – 3/8th ounce Shooter Lures jig with a Bass Assassin Pure Craw trailer pegged by a Hook Pal disc. This combo gets you that big bite you need in your bag. You can skip it under docks and pitch it to laydowns. The key with this bait is to skip it under docks as far as you can to get those fish that may haven’t seen a lure that day.
6’9″ medium heavy St. Croix casting rod – 3/8th ounce jighead with a Bass Assassin Lit’l Boss Shiner pegged by a hook pal disc. This combo is for those schooling fish or fish you see blow up. My key to success with this combo is to reel it as slow as possible with a steady retrieve. This just seems to get more bites.
What is your favorite Virginia body of water to bass fish just for fun?
I would have to say the Chickahominy River. It is a place you could possibly catch a double digit, it’s a tidal fishery, the scenery is great, and it has so many different types of cover to fish. This place is a bass fisherman’s dream.
What is your favorite method to fish on Chickahominy River?
On this fishery you can do a lot of power fishing. From chatterbaits to buzzbaits to walking a frog it all works on this fishery. I love fishing this way because on my home body of water, Lake Anna, slow and finesse presentations seem to dominate most of the year.
My keys to success is to cover as much water as you can because with this being a tidal fishery the bass are always moving and repositioning with falling/rising water. The more water you are able to cover throughout the day the better your chances are of running into a school of active bass.
Who are your pro staff companies/sponsors?
I have three, The Hook Pal, Bass Assassin and WOO! Tungsten
The Hook Pal tool has really helped my game and saved me a lot of money in plastics. This tool takes plastic discs that you thread on the hook to keep a trailer hook on or help secure plastics on your hooks as well. There are so many uses of this tool and there are videos on YouTube showing so many uses for the tool.
I have used Bass Assassin lures for a long time now. My dad and I have caught so many stripers from Lake Anna on the Sea-shad swimbaits that the company makes. Not until recent years I realized how many types of plastic lures this company makes. They have been a major game changer for me in my soft plastic game.
WOO! Tungsten has met my weight needs from texas rigging to drop-shotting to even neko rigging. The paint on these weights do not chip like other tungsten weights and keeps your baits looking more natural for longer.
I am very fortunate to be working with such great companies that I believe in and have the confidence in their products to use on tournament day.
Thank you Eric. Will be following on Instagram @ejfishn.