Allen Luck is a fantastic Virginia bass angler. He is also a great blogger and writer. He has taken his talents to the fishing industry to support a great cause. Learn about Allen and everything he is up to in this Angler Profile interview.
How was your trip to the Forrest Wood Cup?
The Forrest Wood Cup in Hot Springs, Arkansas was a great experience. This was only my second and definitely the best story line. The Cup is the culmination of hard work over the course of 7 events. The 53 anglers who make the FLW Cup have earned the status of best-of-the-best for the given year. The crowds are larger, the stakes are higher, the atmosphere is spectacular. I have attended the last two Bassmaster Classics as well, and they are both events a hardcore angler should witness at least once.
Lake Ouachita fished difficult especially the last day with a number of the top 10 not even getting a 5 fish limit. What is the mood like among the pros who fished the stingy few days?
The conditions were super difficult. Like much of the country this time of year, the fishing slows down dramatically. I think every angler in the field had experienced highs and lows in practice. Consistency was hard to come by, and it showed in the event. The leaderboard shifted dramatically all three days. I guess you could say the anglers were extremely humbled by the lake.
If I learned anything from the competition, it’s to stick with a game plan. As Clent Davis admitted, luck played a big role in the elusive big bite, having weighed in 9-8 two days in a row before finally busting the 17-13 bag on Day 3.
Throwing big baits did not get Davis a lot of bites, but summer bass often search out the biggest reward for the least amount of effort. He also reiterated that multiple casts to the same structure is key when you believe a fish is there. Get in the structure, bring the bait over each branch, and let the bait fall and repeat. The large worm on a swinging rugby head was the easy meal the suspended fish were looking for in the deep brush piles.
What is your specific role with the Keep America Fishing’s Pledge to Pitch It Campaign?
Almost two years ago, I decided to make the change from working in animal lab science to working in the sportfishing industry. My fiancé actually found the job posting online and after some time of feeling stagnant, it was a much-needed breath of fresh air.
The American Sportfishing Association had a job opening for a Digital Content Manger under Keep America Fishing, the association’s grassroots advocacy program. Although we both thought that the job was a long shot based on the job specs, I guess they saw my passion for bass fishing and industry experience I had already gained in college and thereafter.
Keep America Fishing’s biggest ongoing campaign is the Pledge to Pitch It. It’s an anti-litter campaign, and a joined effort by thousands of anglers nationwide to ensure used and worn out plastics end up in the trash or a designated soft plastic recycling bin, instead of in our waterways. As a bass fisherman, I took a liking to this initiative. We can all benefit from a greater sense of awareness as stewards of our environment. Working with FLW and the B.A.S.S. Nation, as well as a handful of other partners has been a rewarding process in itself.
This year, my Director asked if I would be interested in taking a larger role in the project. Without hesitation, I said absolutely. Unfortunately, I can’t speak a whole lot about it at the moment, but I promise you some meaningful projects are in the works.
Anybody reading this article can easily get involved by simply visiting PledgeToPitchIt.org and hitting the “Sign the Pledge” button. By filling out your personal information, you are making a simple yet meaningful commitment to properly dispose of your soft plastics after a day out on the water. When legislation attempts to ban the use of soft plastics, which has happened before, believe it or not, our audience stands as a united symbol of conscientious anglers and conservationists.
Is working in the fishing industry as glamorous as it seems to a lot of people?
Glamorous, not so much. Rewarding on the other hand, definitely. To be honest with you, I don’t see any desk job as spectacular. In reality, as most of you reading probably will agree, we would rather be out on a lake somewhere setting the hook and honing our craft. I, like many of you, had to eventually come to the reality that fishing doesn’t always pay the bills. In fact, you would be surprised how many pros out there struggle just to make ends meet. That was a gamble I wasn’t willing to make.
I’d say the coolest part of my job is the opportunity for growth, both in knowledge and position. As I mentioned before, I was a Biology undergraduate working with Zebrafish and Clownfish in a research lab. My only experience managing websites and social media accounts was my personal pages. This has opened my mind to a whole new frontier of media, design and advertising. If nothing else, this should show you that anything is possible with an open mind and hard work. I love the creative process. Mundane work can often drive my mind away from concentration. Not the best attribute for working certain jobs.
I would say the most challenging part of my line of work is getting the public to take part in advocacy. As I have been told in the past, “advocacy isn’t sexy”. The current political climate and mistrust in government are other factors that I feel drive people away from being active. The truth is, there are some really great things happening in the world of fisheries conservation right now.
Given your role working with social media, what advice do you have for anglers trying to brand through social media?
I’ll be the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to social media. I have a very meager following in today’s world of social media sensations. I do, however, feel that I am beginning to grasp some key points to a worthwhile account.
If I could offer any advice, it is to be genuine. Social media users, especially millennials, are great at sensing when fakery is afoot. In the world of bass fishing, this could be claiming such and such a company is a sponsor when clearly, they aren’t, or the recently popular trend of adding followers via following other accounts then deleting them to inflate your numbers. In today’s culture, the need for instant gratification can sometimes get the best of people.
If you are really trying to grow a solid following, it takes times and effort. I would recommend following accounts in the fishing world that are successful, and emulate what they are doing, with your own twist of course. Stay up on the latest trends and think about leaning towards digital photography. People don’t accept mobile photography in the same way they used to, and cameras that take both photo and video are becoming increasingly affordable. Above all, see what works for you and run with it!
How about your own bass fishing? What are your favorite places to bass fish in your home State?
I have a few favorities, but on the top of my list is Smith Mountain Lake; not because I have the fish figured out every time I travel there, but because the lake is my first and only tournament win to date. I actually didn’t even begin fishing until I was in school at Hampden-Sydney College. After tearing both hamstrings and tearing the labrum in my shoulder, my body wasn’t what it had been. To a place kicker, your legs are everything and I had lost noticeable distance.
After giving up football, the college known for angling and hunting gave me a competitive outlet I was seeking. We started the Hampden-Sydney anglers club the first semester of my sophomore year, and the rest was history. We entered the final qualifying event of the FLW College Fishing Northern Division, and ended up in third on Lake Gaston. From there, we went on to finish third in the Regional Championship on Lake Norman and qualified for the inaugural National Championship. Although we failed to place, talk about an amazing introduction into tournament fishing!
The second semester of my junior year, we competed on Smith Mountain. I put my all into practicing prior to the event, and I studied tournament results and Google Maps online. Nothing though could have prepared me for the conditions we faced on tournament day. A weather front came in, leaving temperatures in the low thirties, along with sleet, snow and rain.
My partner and I targeted rock banks, and fortunately the cold weather bass were using these banks for warmth. The dirty water in the Blackwater River was warmer than anywhere I had found on the lake, and the #7 Shadrap with its tight wobble drove the bass crazy. I don’t think we had more than one or two non-keepers, and even culled three or four times. When the day was done, we had amassed 16 pounds. As any tournament angler knows, opportunities like this do not come often, but we were fortunate to outweigh the closest Virginia Tech team by nearly three pounds. I have been chasing that thrill ever since.
Do you get to travel and fish much?
Competing in the FLW College Series gave me the opportunity to travel. We competed on North Carolina’s Lake Norman and High Rock, Ft. Loudoun/Tellico Lakes in Tennessee, and Lake Sayers in upstate Pennsylvania.
I would say Lake Norman for the FLW College Regional was my favorite. After Day 1, we were out of contention. We had, however, figured out a pattern at the end of the day. We noticed birds dropping on bait in 25 to 35 feet of water, and my experienced partner, Charles Parrish, was a seasoned striper fisherman and knew spoons would be the key. With only two spoons, Charlie hooked up on a large striper which ended up breaking him off. With no knowledge of jigging spoons, I snagged his only other on the bottom, ending that as quickly as it began. Before heading to the hotel, we stopped by a local Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought every Hopkins spoon in stock. What came next was something out of a bass magazine.
We had our limit before 8 a.m. on the second day of competition. We must have caught no fewer than 50 fish that day, and to our amazement, ended up with not only the largest bag of the second day, but of the tournament! We were the third team to hit the scales, and sweated it out as 22 other teams took the stage. When it was all said and done, we rifled from 15th to 5th place, the last spot to qualify for the final day.
The third day was not as easy, and it took all day to fill our limit. We had a cameraman for Verses Network, modern day NBC Sports, as well as a follow boat. The way the college series worked at the time, each angler was responsible for three of the six fish weighed in. Within the final thirty minutes I caught my second and third keeper, firing up the same schools that had propelled us to the final day. Ultimately, we moved from 5th to 3rd Place, and qualified for the National Championship.
Through the FLW BFL Series, I got the opportunity to travel to Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. I have also had the opportunity to fun fish Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee.
I want to talk a bit about your impressive blog. You have a long history of blogging. What got you started?
Growing up before the internet gave us the opportunity to use our imagination. I can recall journaling from a young age, something that gave me the opportunity to relive experiences in the field. From the time I was old enough to walk, I was tagging along in the woods of Prince Edward Country, Virginia with my dad. I took my first deer in fourth or fifth grade, an event that sent me into a lifelong passion for the outdoors.
On summer vacations, my mother expected her children to write in order to fuel the creative process. Although I often saw it as a chore at the time, it was something that stuck with me. My grades in school did not necessarily reflect my enthusiasm for writing, but I have learned inspiration is dictated by subject matter. Each time there was an open topic, my grade would go up exponentially.
While other colleges are moving away from grammar focus, Hampden-Sydney College is unique for its emphasis on rhetoric. I think this played a huge role in encouraging my writing. It took three times to pass the Rhetoric Proficiency Exam, yet it developed relevant skills and is an accomplishment I treasure.
In 2014, I started AllenLuckFishing.com and have been sharing my experiences ever since. To date, I’ve written 98 posts.
You write very thorough posts. What have been the most rewarding aspects of writing a fishing blog? What have been the most challenging aspects?
I have always been wordy, and I suppose it compensates for being more introverted in person. The most rewarding aspect has always been when I have gotten positive responses on my writing. I have never considered myself a good writer, but I am continually aiming to improve.
As I get older, the biggest challenge is finding time for the creative process. There are so many distractions in adult life, making for what seems like a longer and longer process.
Who are your current sponsor/pro staff companies?
My longest sponsorship is with Culprit Lures. I originally targeted the company while I was establishing partners for the H-SC College Fishing Club. After I graduated, I brought up the idea of representing the company on a personal level and they were extremely supportive. I have found Culprit plastics in my dad and grandfather’s tackle boxes, and Culprit has been a staple in the industry since the 1970’s and the Original Culprit Worm.
Since then, I have aligned myself with some great partners. Reelsnot Line Lubricant and Fish Attractants I met a couple years ago at the Richmond Fishing Expo. Just this year, I added Beast Coast Fishing, a company making waves in terms of innovative plastics and Tungsten weights for all presentations. The AFTCO Freshwater team also took me on, classically a saltwater fishing brand who debuted this year into the freshwater fishing market, winning both Best Technical Apparel and Lifestyle Apparel at ICAST. I am also working on the Proving Grounds Team for 13 Fishing.
Lastly, who is your four legged fishing partner? You wrote an entire post on introducing dogs to being on the water. How long did it take you to get her used to the boat?
In 2012, after admiring the energy and brains of the German-Shorthaired Pointer, I finally pulled the trigger and bought my first dog. I grew up with a Beagle, but the breed follows their nose and is tough to train. The GSP, however, is known for being as good in the home as they are in the field. The decision was easy. All the Virginia breeders had already whelped, so my finance and I drove after work on a Thursday to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and purchased Madison, our 6-year old female.
She was originally intended for hunting purposes, but the bass fishing schedule quickly got in the way of field competition. We introduced her to water almost immediately. In fact, the first time she was introduced to water she was diving to grab aquatic vegetation on the Potomac. The breed may be known as an upland bird dog, but their webbed feet will hang with the greatest of waterfowl breeds.
From the time my grandparents bought the ’89 Winner in 2014, a bass boat brand no longer around, Madison has climbed aboard. She has mostly been out on the James River, but has also traveled to Kerr Lake. She loves to sniff fish and stays in the boat until the heat becomes too much to handle. Birds are the biggest distraction, but an e-collar allows us to call her back when she swims too far. The most rewarding aspect is bringing home a high energy breed to sleep well for the duration of the day.
In July, we unexpectantly adopted our second GSP, a year-old male. He has not yet experienced the boat, but his time will come. After owning bird dogs, I don’t see myself owning any other category of canine. Their intelligence is remarkable.