Twenty Questions With Walleye Pro, Johnnie Candle
It's that time of year where we don't have any tournaments to cover and it's a handful of months before we can get on the road to start the 2010 season, so to change things up, and give us all a chance to learn more about some of the men and women who fish the various circuits, I've come up with my series called, "Twenty Questions".
The plan is to interview a different angler each week, and share their responses with all of you here on Walleye Central. Then, if the angler is willing, and has the time, he or she will do a follow up interview by way of the weekly chat on Wednesday nights at 7PM Central Time. The chatsite is located here: http://www.walleyecentral.com/chatsite.php
For Chat Schedules, please see http://www.walleyecentral.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=40
Johnnie has graciously agreed to be the first WC Chat Host of the "off season", so please mark your calendars for Wednesday night, November 11th, and join us for a candid chat. With a lifetime of fishing experience behind him, he's a great source of information for any quesitons you might have regarding any fishing situation/conditions. He's also a very avid hunter, so you can ask him those kinds of quesitons too!
Juls: How was your tournament season this year?
Johnnie: The season went great. I fished the MWC West and one other MWC at Sandusky OH. My partner Dave Noble and I finished 4th overall in the Western Division, qualified for the MWC WWC and the Cabelas NTC. The year was highlighted by a 6th place finish at Mobridge and a 5th place finish at Devils Lake. I also fished a husband/wife event here on Devils Lake and won it for the second year in a row.
Juls: You fished the new Western Division of the MWC this year, how did you like that?
Johnnie: The Western Division of the MWC was a blast. I knew a lot of the guys fishing already, so it was fun to see them again. I also made a ton of new friends.
Juls: What are you doing now that the season has finished for the year?
Johnnie: Getting ready for next year. That started the day the season ended. Creating an annual report for sponsors takes a while. It is also contract time right now, so I am working hard on securing enough funds to get through next year. Hunting seems to get in the way a little too much, but it all gets done somehow.
Juls: Have you taken any vacations? If so, where did you go?
Johnnie: No real vacations. I did go to Tobin Lake, SK looking for some big walleye. It went ok, we got two over 12 pounds and a bunch more in the 8 to 10 pound range. I am going on a hunting trip to Southern Ohio in December and really looking forward to that.
Juls: You're a guide on Devils Lake. How has the fishing been out there this year, and what do you think next year looks like in that regard? I heard the water was up quite a bit, is it still rising?
Johnnie: Every year I tell myself that fishing can’t get any better and it does. This past season was simply incredible. Lots of nice fish and enough big ones to keep everyone happy. The water was up 4 feet this spring and has not receded at all. They are predicting 1 to 3 feet more next spring. It could get interesting here with three more feet of water. Roads under water, bridges that you can’t get under, lots of fun stuff.
Juls: Who are your sponsors? And, what do they have planned for you this winter? Will you be doing boat shows and sport shows to pass the cold weather months?
Johnnie: My sponsors keep me very busy. Scheels is a major sponsor and I will be conducting Walleye Universities for them again in 2010. Crestliner and Mercury as well as MinnKota, Hummingbird and EZ Loader trailers keep me busy at sport and boat shows. Lake Region State College is my newest sponsor and I will be busy recruiting students for them this winter as well as teaching a few fishing classes for physical education credits during the spring semester. Berkley uses me at many in-store events as well. It will be a busy “Off” season.
Juls: What kind of promotions do you like to do the most? Which ones are the most fun for you?
Johnnie: The Walleye Universities I teach for Scheels are the most enjoyable for me. I get to share my fishing experience, make new friends, and market my sponsors products all while getting paid. Teaching others how to catch fish is the most rewarding part of what I do. Getting an e-mail in mid-summer form one of my students telling me that what I taught them worked is simply awesome.
Juls: You recently got married and now have a houseful of women...how's that experience been for you?
Johnnie: Well now, can I win at all answering this question? We are not really married, not quite yet. Working on it, but consider it done already. We have been a family now for 7 years. Bobbi is great and her 4 daughters are really cool too. It definitely has its challenges living with 5 women (4 are teenagers) and they keep me on my toes. I am gone a lot and that is both good and bad. We try to do as much together as a family that we can fit in, but it is hard. Crashing cars seems to be a more common thing among teenagers than I remember. Maybe it is because I have to fix them now?
Juls: What are your plans for the 2010 season?
Johnnie: For 2010 I will be competing in the MWC again. I will fish the MWC West and for a Challenge event will fish at Lake Winnebago. My partner, Dave Noble, and I also qualified for the NTC so we will compete there as well.
Juls: You have been in the fishing business for many years now, how long exactly has it been for you?
I started guiding when I was 17 years old. My father is one of the original Lake Erie central basin charter boat captains. We were actually developing a lot of the techniques that anglers use all over the place today. I will be 40 this May, so that makes 23 years for me. WOW! Has it been that long really?
Juls: What bodies of water have been your favorites over the years?
Johnnie: Lake Erie Rocks!!!! Growing up there was simply incredible. Mille Lacs Lake has become a favorite, I seem to cash checks there pretty regularly. Devils Lake is a ton of fun also. I have seen so many places over the years that there are too many favorites to list. Tobin Lake in Saskatchewan has become a yearly destination as well.
Juls: What's your favorite technique to use whenever possible?
Johnnie: If I can, I am trolling crank baits. It is in the blood.
Juls: If you could tell a new angler one tip to help them get started in tournament fishing, what would it be?
Johnnie: If an angler wants to start tournament fishing they need to get a giant brain eraser and forget everything they think they know about fishing. I do things so much differently now than I did 23 years ago. Just when you think you know it all, it will change.
Juls: You have fished both team events and pro/am events, which format do you like best?
Johnnie: I enjoy both types of tournaments. The pro-am events offer a great showcase for individual talents. It is fun to be in charge for a few days (especially living with 5 women LOL!!!). On the other hand, I had a ton of fun fishing the MWC this past season. It was real nice sharing boat chores and camp duties. It was nice being able to ask the other angler in the boat for help and not be breaking a rule. Just having someone that can run the trolling motor while you are tying knots is a huge help.
Juls: What is your favorite memory that stands out over all the others from your many years of fishing in general. It doesn't have to be specifically from tourney fishing either.
Johnnie: When I was young, maybe 8 or 10 years old, I wrote a letter to T. Layton Sheppard. At the time he was known as the Mepps Man. I found his name in a magazine. In the letter, I explained to him my love of fishing and how I used Mepps spinners a lot in my fishing. He sent me a letter back with a free Mepps spinner. As I would catch fish on the spinner, I would send him pictures. He would always reply and sometimes send more spinners. He sent a patch for my jacket and I displayed it with pride.
Looking back on this, it was my first experience dealing with a sponsor. Little did I know it would be a way of life for me.
Juls: How old were you when you began fishing, and who first took you fishing as a kid?
Johnnie: The first picture of me fishing was taken when I was about 2 years old. I am sure I really didn’t fish then, but I went along. I do know from the time I could ride a bike, I was constantly peddling down the road to catch a fish. My dad took me as much as he could, but it was Grandpa Candle (his name is Johnnie too) that spent more time with me on the water than anyone when I was younger. He is in his mid 90s now and has had two strokes in the past few months. It will be very sad to see him go. In 1978 he caught the largest walleye in the state of Ohio at 13 pounds and it did not come from Lake Erie.
Juls: How old were you when you first started tournament fishing?
Johnnie: I was 24 years old when I fished my first tournament. My first event was a NAWA event. Never fished a local event, or as an amateur. I jumped right in the pro ranks and took on the world. Boy did I get a rude awakening.
Juls: You're a fishing guide when you're not on the road, how long have you been doing that? Do you still enjoy it as much as you did when you first started guiding?
Johnnie: Like I mentioned earlier, I was 17. I got my Captains Licenses when I was 21. Guiding is a lot of fun for me. Hearing comments like “That is the biggest fish ever caught” or “We have never caught this many in a day before” or “My first walleye, WOW!” never gets old. I will guide long after I am done tournament fishing.
Juls: If you could only take one famous person, dead or alive, fishing with you....who would it be?
Johnnie: This is a tough one. There are so many people I would like to spend a day with and give back to. One person that I really admired and would love to meet was coach John Wooden from UCLA basketball fame. His book “They Call Me Coach” was in my locker from grade 9 till I graduated and I still use quotes from it often. He used the Pyramid of Success to show his players how to succeed at anything in life. I hope I have used it as good as he would expect any of his players.
On the purely fun side of things, I would really like to take Ted Nugent fishing. I would show him the Spirit of the Wild on the water.
Juls: Why do you like fishing?
Johnnie: I fish, because I can. In all seriousness, I could not imagine doing anything else. It is the one thing that makes everything right. I used to tell my Grandmother that I would rather be hooked on crack. At least you can get treatment for that.