Hi Jean-Christophe, welcome to Spineri, we’re happy to finally have you here.
Bonjour ! I’m glad too, I really appreciate the energy you put in your job and your pictures are beautiful. I was supposed to answer that interview a long time ago but I’m so busy fishing that I didn’t take time for that. Sorry.
For starters please tell us how did you find such big love for bass fishing and bass fishing competitions?
I come from a small island in north west of France, ile de Groix. I grew up fishing for salt water fish. We moved on the main land in 1988 I was 8 years old. At that point I’ve started to fish for carp, chub, trout, perch and pike I was using live baits mainly and some little spoon my uncle gave me. For Christmas 1989 I asked my parents to register me to a fishing magazine. I was able to read the hundred pages of the issue in one day, I was so passionate. Then I would go to the lake or the river and tried what I read.Usually it wasn’t a success but I remember one day reading a beautiful article about a French journalist fishing in Texas and Mexico and catching huge bass. He was using a spinnerbait. It made me dream so hard about bass and that crazy looking spinnerbait. I was 11 when I owned my first one. After that I’ve never put a live bait on my line anymore, except worms for trout. I built a lot of knowledge sharing with friends and older guys, but I also spent a lot of time fishing by myself. You can’t increase your level if you are behind your computer chatting about fishing instead of being on the water. In the late 90’s I traveled in the south west of France and started to fish for bass. It was amazing, I had the feeling that I didn’t know how to fish.Bass is so unique it requires so much technique and scientific knowledge. If you don’t know the seasonal pattern and what the fish are doing it’s going to be tough to adapt and catch them. Early 2000’s I met Tanguy and we began to fish together. Lot of fun, lots of good moments. We tried to give a new vision of fishing and a different energy through a blog, articles, videos and pictures. Then we fished tournaments together with a pretty good success.I fished in France, Italy and Spain for bass, but I felt limited. Even if the landscape and those countries are nice I felt limited and frustrated. I wanted to live my passion for bass fishing and fish in Bassmaster tournaments. I had to go to United States, it was a dream, it was in my guts. I was school teacher in France and it took me five years to save money and apply for different positions of school teacher in US. I ended up in Louisiana and bought a truck and a bassboat 15 days after landing from France.I fished the co-angler side of the Bassmaster Central Open my first year. I finished in third place overall and qualified for the pro side last year. It was tough because I don’t have the knowledge of the locals and I have a lot to learn.In 2016 I’m going to fish the pro side again and as everybody here try to qualify for the Elite series. It’s a huge challenge, really difficult, but I’m going to give all that I have for that. I’m spending over 250 days a year on the water and I have a partnership with RangerBoats for 2016, it helps. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s all about passion.
What are the strongest bass tournaments in Europe and how much are they strong compared to American tournaments?
In Italy you have a strong scene of bassmen so as in Spain. Portugal is good too. In Europe we have a strong field of angler influenced by American and Japanese bass culture. The only thing is we don’t have all the variety of habitats that the bass fishing handbook can offer. Europeans are good at fishing clear water and rocky lakes, but what about grass, shallow muddy water, smallmouth bass, Florida strain, huge lakes and rivers ?
We have so much to learn from Americans and you can’t do it in couple months !
Americans have been fishing for bass forever and brought it to Europe in the 40’s. Those guys are used to catch them all over the country since they are in age of fishing. You can’t compete with that without spending a huge amount of time on the water and share.
At one point you moved to America and started to participate in big USA bass fishing tournaments. How different is it to catch bass in Europe and in America?
Before coming here I was used to clear water and rocks or wood. I needed to increase my level in each compartment of bass fishing and discover what grass fishing was. The best scenes in United States are Florida, Louisiana, Texas, California and north east for smallmouth. So I decided to move to south west Louisiana thirty minutes away from the Texas border. I’m close to Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Toledo Bend (biggest man made lake in the US), Calcasieu River, Red River, Atchafalaya Bassin and a huge marsh that looks like Okeechobee in Florida and holds giant fish.
The strain of fish is different here in the south and the cold fronts affect them so bad! What is really different for me is the hunt. The way of finding fish. Those environments are so big, you have to cover a lot of water and be sure that you are doing the right thing. That’s why it’s so important to understand the seasonal pattern, how the fish behave through the year on each body of water you are fishing. After almost three years here I’m starting to have a better global vision of what I need to do.
Was it then that your friendship with Sakura start or before?
As I told you I met Tanguy and then Franck in the early 2000’s. We were close friends really quick, so when he started to work for Sakura I just followed him as a pro staff member.
I have read somewhere that, since bass, like all fish, doesn’t have eyelids it is estimated that during sunset he needs like 15 min for his eyes to adapt on the light shift. They say that is why he is so aggressive in that period for surface lures, what do you think about that?
Ahahaha! I don’t know about that and I’m not a scientist, but what I think is like for any other animal or human being before going to bed it’s dinner time, and before starting your day it’s breakfast ! Those two moments of the day are premium periods to catch fish, no matter what you are doing if you are fishing top water, crankbait, flipping or cranking. You can’t miss that !
On some videos we can see that in America bass is active under the ice… But here in Europe, specially here in Croatia, bass fishing during winter is dead. Are we doing something wrong or are the fish just inactive?
It’s no secret that when you have ice in the water bass are pretty tough to catch! In Canada and northern states of United States they have a special strain of bass created to be more tolerant to very low temperature. You can still catch fish in really cold water but don’t expect a lot of bites. You have to slow down a lot. It’s painful!
Do you prefer finesse fishing or power fishing?
I wish I could fish a topwater all day for 365 days ! But unfortunately it’s not the case, you always need to adapt to what the fish want. I like to catch them fast and with a safe and strong technique, especially if I’m fishing a tournament, you know big rod and 20 pound test fluorocarbone with a big single hook. I like to locate them with a spinnerbait and then take the area apart and use a Texas Rig.
But when I’m fishing a river system with clear water I can’t avoid to use a spinning rod and 8 pound test fluorocarbone. Fishing a weightless Senko or a wacky worm is always efficient and the fights are fun on that kind of gear.
How much difference does the color of the lure make in bass fishing?
Colors are a big factor in bassfishing like in any other type of fishing.I’m going to give you a quick pattern I use on my soft baits:First you need to base you bait color on the water clarity and the cloud cover.If the water is clear and the sky is clear I use really light colors, close to translucent like watermelon, watermelon red, watermelon black flakes. White can be good in the morning and evening If the water is clear but you have clouds cover and less light penetration I go with a green pumpkin, green pumpkin black flakes or june bug.Then when it’s stain (50cm to 80 cm of visibility), june bug and green pumpkin are still my go to. Finally when the water is really dirty I use black, or black and red. Something that can offer a lot of contrast. Also you have to observe and keep in mind the kind of baitfish you have in the water you are fishing. Shad, crawfish… Because it will be a huge indication on what the fish are feeding on and you want to try to match it.
What Sakura lures do you use most in your fishing?
When I try to locate fish I like to use the MONARC spinnerbait. I’m also a big fan of the NAJA SUB and his unique way to fall by the tail. The SLIT SHAD is also a bait I’m using in many different context.
You made a small presentation about new Sakura Players rods. Are you planning to use them for tournaments? What do you think about the new Players?
Oh yes I’m planning to use them ! I’ve been fishing with the PLAYERS since the beginning of 2016 and I’m really impressed. Lighter than the FURIOZZA, really sensitive and powerful. The talon full carbon offers a new look but mainly more sensitivity and a good loss of weight. I’m really in love with the 7’4H for flipping and the 6’8M for top water and soft jerkbait.
Thanks Jean for being here on Spineri and sharing with us your incredible fishing story. We wish you all the best in future bass competition and life. We will be following you and we hope that now you will come more often here to share with us your experiences.
Thank you so much for that interview and for the support. I’m looking forward to writing in Spineri and sharing more fishing stories or techniques with you. Merci, à bientôt.
I would like to thanks RangerBoats, Navicom for Humminibird and MinnKota, Costa Sunglasses and Sakura Fishing.
Keep on fishing !