About this time each year, Todd Faircloth takes some time off to reflect not only on the tournament season just concluded but also on a career that started fulltime in 2000. The Yamaha Pro doesn’t reflect on the past very long however, because he’s already planning for his 2024 season.
“I actually fished my first Bassmaster® tournament in August, 1999, on Lake St. Clair, and finished 13th,” recalls Faircloth, who at the time was working as a carpenter in his father’s construction business. “I knew I wanted to fish professionally as a career and when I won $5,000 at St. Clair, my dream was that much stronger. Even after I finished 56th at Lake Champlain the next month and didn’t win a nickel, I still knew I wanted to be a professional tournament fisherman.
“A lot has changed in the sport since my first full season in 2000, but some things have not changed, including my relationship with Yamaha and Skeeter. Both have been sponsoring me since that very first season.”
One of the major changes has been that Faircloth’s wife Angie and their three children don’t travel to the tournaments with him anymore. It’s not because of a rule change, but rather, because the children have to attend school. He and Angie did not home-school them as many tournament families do. “We’d all stay at the same campground so the kids always had their friends to play with,” remembers the Yamaha Pro. “The friendships they developed during those years are still strong today, even now as my oldest son, Hudson, heads to Texas A&M University® this fall to begin his freshman year.
“Traveling together as a family was one of the neatest parts of this profession. Today, just leaving home and knowing I may be gone for two weeks if we have back-to-back events, is the hardest thing I have to do.”
There have also been major changes in fishing equipment and tackle during Faircloth’s career, the most dramatic probably being the introduction of what is commonly known as forward-facing sonar.
“At first, we all thought it would be limited to off-shore fishing on big lakes like Ontario and Erie,” says Faircloth, “but we’re using it in shallow water, and we’re learning more and more at every tournament.
“It was more challenging for those of us who are a little older than the newest generation of anglers, but you have to be open-minded in this sport and learn the new technology, whether you really want to or not. If it will help you become a better fisherman, you have to learn it, even though you may be reluctant to let go of what has previously worked for you for years.”
In finishing fourth at Saginaw Bay where he fished shallow vegetation, Faircloth did not use forward-facing sonar, but he did rely on a different technology that has also become important to bass fishermen: satellite imaging. It literally showed him deeper holes and drop-offs in the submerged vegetation where bass were holding.
Had the wind not been howling at near gale-force strength the final day of the tournament, Faircloth feels he could have made a stronger run at winning the event. Over his B.A.S.S.® career, he’s won five Bassmaster® Elite Series events, including one at Lake St. Clair where it all started so many years ago. “During each off-season, the Yamaha Pro also likes to tinker with his fishing tackle, organizing and preparing certain lures to use in specific tournaments in the upcoming season. He changes hooks, adjusts spinnerbait blades, and uses fingernail polish to add colors.
“One thing I regret not doing early in my career is putting in a swimming pool like my wife always wanted me to do,” concludes the Yamaha Pro. “You can learn a lot about how lures look in the water, and a swimming pool provides that opportunity.
“If my lure doesn’t look right to me when it’s in the water, it’s not going to look right to a fish, either.”
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