Dave Wolak is a great guy. He is also a very good professional angler and this year’s performance is a testament to his dedication and resolve. He is currently in 4th place in the BASS Elite Series Angler of the Year race and is off to one of the best starts of his career. We had a chance to sit down with him after the Smith Mountain Tournament to get the skinny on that great start. Below is that conversation.
1. Just about every angler we talk to talks about the mental approach to the sport. Is it cliche or is it a vital part of the game?
“The mental part of fishing is extremely important. The more I fish the better I feel about that part. Its easy when you are starting out trying to make a name for yourself and gain sponsors to get “spun out”. Its a percentage game with me. Bad things will happen and its how you react to them that is important. I work really hard to move past the bad things and yet stay humble too. Good things breed good things and I like a calm approach and there is no easy way. Success breeds more success and fishing loose is critical. I never know before a tournament how things will happen. I like to let them unfold and this year I am fishing loose.”
“Its very easy to adjust when you are relaxed and my confidence is right now at the highest level it has ever been. Fishing with a free mind is so important…and its also fun.”
2. Lets talk equipment. You guys get to use the best equipment and have things first. How important is equipment to you?
“I spend a ton of time with my equipment. To be honest, when I am home I don’t get to fish much but I do work on things to make sure they are right. We just got our new Pinnacle rods, they will be coming out at ICAST, and they are AWESOME. We, the Pinnacle Pro Staff, got to have a ton of influence in the design and actions of these rods. I took a trip to a local lake when I got them just to feel comfortable with them. Each one of them are tools and each have a particular application they were designed for. I wanted to make sure I had them set up perfectly.”
“Another cool deal I have been working with is a new Yamaha generator that I run when I fish to add life to batteries. Dean Rojas and I had the chance to talk to the developers at Yamaha and have a neat little generator that allows us to run on high all day without losing battery life. It makes a little bit of noise as it is gas powered but we can stay on high all day in bedding tournaments and its a big advantage. This was Dean’s deal but it works perfectly. It allows us to never worry about batteries.”
3.You are off to a great start. Is it about fishing loose as you mentioned earlier?
Oh yea, that has been very important plus I am not green on these bodies of water any longer. For instance we are now going to Pickwick and I love the Tennessee River fisheries. I know where to look and what to look for. I am also technically more sound now than ever before. No stupid little things that haunted me last year. Things were going good last year at times and some stupid little thing would happen that would cause a problem. This year I am doing everything possible t o eliminate the “stupid things.”
“It’s a ton easier to pack for these events now because I am comfortable and know what to expect. I take the right baits and have the right tools to be able to do it better. Winning the AOY is my goal and you only get a few chances at it. I am not satisfied with just being in the top 12 at the end of the year. I want to win this thing. I hope it’s my time and I am going to go for it. Confidence is critical and so what is suppose to happen has.”
4. Changing gears a bit the fan’s of bass fishing are super. How important are they to you as a professional angler?
“They are super important. I get on Facebook and its neat to have dialog with them. Some I have met and others I do not know but the interaction is awesome. Its a self pride thing with me to do well and its important to fans too. I run half marathons and know I will never win but its about pride to do better. You get fans because you perform well and because you treat them right. I do my best to interact with the fans at every event. We are just regular guys and when the fans get to know you its neat. I make it a point to be fan friendly as they make this sport go and we need them. They took the time to go to a weigh in and we need to take the time to interact with them.”
“I used to have a job just like many of them do and I was fortunate enough to be able to walk away from it and make it at something I have a passion for. Some people never get that chance and I take that responsibility very seriously. I am living my passion and the fans make it fun.
5. If you could change anything in our sport right now what would it be?
Wow, I need to think about that one. In general I think we need to have pro anglers be pro anglers. We need to have a qualification process, with something like a “Tour Card”, that says you are a pro. Sponsorships are tough and its hard to tell the difference between a weekend angler and a pro at times for sponsors. They don’t know the difference and yes we need all levels but there should be a way to define top, middle and bottom better. I don’t want to make anyone mad here but a wrapped truck and boat does not make a pro and its our responsibility to help define that better. It would be good for everyone if we did.”
I also think we need a longer season. More companies, sponsors, want to be here and they need more to get them to buy in. A longer season would help. We have to work hard at being a professional and the anglers should stand up for themselves and get the visibility in a professional manner that makes sponsors want to be a part of it. I know they are out there and its incumbant on all of us to help get them here.”