Twenty Questions with Walleye Pro Greg Yarbrough
Hailing from my home town of Port Clinton, OH Greg Yarbrough is known around these parts as one of the top tier Walleye Pros on Lake Erie. I've had the pleasure of bumping into Greg and his family here and there around town and he's always quick with an infectious smile and a hearty, "Hello"! He's an amiable fellow that is easy to approach and talk to. So, I would like to cordially invite all of you to join us Wednesday night in the Walleye Central Chat Room on March 9th, at 7 PM Central Time, where we will continue our chat with Greg about his career and life as a touring Pro, guide, and Starcraft Regional Sales Rep. This will be your chance to ask him any questions you might have regarding fishing, hunting, or about the industry itself, he's done it all.
Until then, please read below to learn more about this hard working fisherman.
Hope to see you all there!
Juls: Who is Greg Yarbrough?
Greg: Greg is a family man and touring professional angler and charter captain who is extremely passionate and dedicated to the sport of fishing and loves to give back to the fellow anglers and children he gets the opportunity to fish with each year through tournaments, guide trips, special events and kids fishing events and clinics. In addition I am a Regional Sales Manger for the Northeast US for Starcraft, Smokercraft and Sylvan boat companies. I also manage Starcraft Marine's National Pro Staff and admin the Pro Fishing corner of the Starcraft Website.
Juls: How old were you when you went fishing for the first time? And, who was it with?
Greg: I distinctly remember fishing from my parents front yard off the main channel of the Detroit River in Gibraltar, MI with my Grandpa William Selon and Grandpa James Yarbrough as a young child. We fished with cane poles and bobbers for perch, bluegill, rock bass, crappie, bullhead and catfish. As I grew, my uncle Jim, Bill, Tom and Bob used to take me quite a bit to different locations throughout Michigan and I really began getting bit by the fishing bug.
Juls: When did you start fishing tournaments?
Greg: Team events was in 1995 on the (MWT) Michigan Walleye Tour and on the Professional Level since 1999 on the In-Fisherman PWT circuit and 2000 with the RCL (FLW) circuit, and the MWC and AIM circuits.
Juls: What is your most memorable experience while fishing? (Either tournament or fun fishing...doesn't matter)
Greg: One day when I was in high school, going out fishing on Easter day, taking both of my Grandpa's out together on the Detroit River, in my boat, and catching and releasing over 100 walleyes in just short of five hours in a 15-20 mile an hour east wind over a mid river flat. It was an absolute suicide bite and was a day that was meant to be, and one I'll never forget.
Juls: What are some of your career hightlights?
Greg: My highlights have come in many circuits. In 2005 Jeff Seyka and I won the Grand National Walleye Cup National Championship on Lake Erie. In 2006 Jeff Manz and I won the Cabelas MWC East division Team of the Year title as well as the Cabelas MWC Overall Team of the Year Title in all divisions. In 2008 Jeff Manz and I won the Cabelas MWC World Walleye Championship out of Dundee, MI on Lake Erie. I have two solid gold rings from the MWC now and my goal is to have a third so I can give one to each of my children. In addition over the years I have had over 30 top ten finishes and 6 wins on numerous circuits.
Circuits fished: AIM, FLW, (RCL), MWC, GNWC, and MWT
Juls: Who are your sponsors?
Greg: Starcraft Marine, Mercury, Trailmaster, St.Croix fishing rods, Lowrance, Navionics, Bert's Custom Tackle, Minn-Kota, Church Tackle, Under Armour, Optima Batteries, Northland Tackle, JT Custom Tackle, VIBE, Dutch Fork Custom Lures, HL Outdoors and Wedge Outdoor Products (See Website) http://gregyarbrough.com/
Juls: I know you are involved in creating new products for some of your sponsors; what are some of those products? And, do you have anything new coming out for 2011?
Greg: I work very closely with R&D with Starcraft Marine on select boat models. We have in the past few years released the STX 2050 multi species tournament boat and the Freedom line up of aluminum boats which is kind of a do all fishing and hunting style workhorse boat line. We just released the new Fiberglass STX 206 Viper Multi Species tournament boat for 2011 which is sure to be an instant success on many circuits. Also I spent some time with Bert's Custom Tackle over the years sharing ideas with Chris, Pat and Dick and they recently introduced the slickest upright rod storage carrier in the industry which is called Rod Corral! I love working with my buds over at JT custom Tackle, Jon Tennessen and Jeff Seyka.
Juls: What did you do for a living before you started in this business as a living?
Greg: I went from college at Central Michigan University right into traveling North America shooting bowhunting videos for five years with the number one producer of bowhunting videos in the world at that time. From there I went on to Retail as a fishing department manager and later operations manager position with a major outdoor retailer. From there onto Lund boat company where I began my Professional fishing career and then to Starcraft Marine based out of Indiana which is where I am today and plan on being for a long time.
Juls: Now that it's the "off season" what do you do?
Greg: It is a season that never ends in the boating industry. I am very active throughout the fall and winter visiting existing dealers as well as new prospects in the Northeast US and working many Boat Shows, Sport Shows, Open houses and In-Store events. I love to get out and do a little bit of hunting and ice fishing with the kids and friends and family when possible.
Juls: What sportshows/outdoor shows can people see you at this winter/spring?
Greg: Chicago Boat Show, Cleveland Boat Show, Pittsburgh Boat Show, Eastern Sport Show -Harrisburg PA, Central NY Boat Show-Syracuse, NY, Ocean City Seaside Boat Show-Ocean City, MD, Buffalo Boat Show, New England Boat Show-Boston, MA, Cabelas-Dundee, MI, Vic's Sports Center Open House -Kent, OH, Grand Rapids Sports Show-Grand Rapids, MI, Jim's Anchorage -Raystown Lake, PA
The Cabelas events is this coming weekend March 5-6 in Dundee, MI. I will be the first speaker Sat and Sun from 10-12 each day! Come on down if you are in the area. Check their website for details.
Juls: As an owner of the AIM circuit, what do you see for it's future?
Greg: I see many hard working individuals that are working as a team to see this sport grow and we are continually trying to get more people involved. AIM has been extremely committed to hosting a kid's clinic at every event and location which is instrumental in bringing families closer together by means of fishing together. This is a huge compliment to AIM and all of the anglers and staff who take time to work these events for the children. I'm proud to be an owner/angler on the AIM circuit as it host some of the most wonderful individuals you could imagine being around who truly care about the state and future of competitive angling and the introduction of fishing to new anglers.
Juls: What was the most enjoyable event for you that AIM held this past season?
Greg: The Brimley Invitational was an awesome event and is sure to be this year as well. They really put on a first class event last year. The staff at the Casino really went out of the way to make sure the event came off without a hitch. Any time you are fishing Lake Superior or the St. Mary's river system it is a pure joy. The scenery is second to none and the fishing is fantastic.
Juls: What are 5 items you never leave the dock without (I don't mean fishing rods, reels, tackle, etc....that's a given)
Greg: Portable Lowrance Marine Band Radio, Cell Phone, Sunglasses, Set of dry clothes and Gore Tex Bibs and Jacket in case someone falls in throughout the coarse of the day, Full safety and survival kit and numbers 6 and 7 Food and Water!
Juls: Of all the waters you have fished in your lifetime, what are your top five favorites, and why?
1. Detroit River/Lake Erie (Because there is truly nothing else like it for so many species) Walleye, Yellow Perch, Steelhead, Smallmouth - World class in each one of these species. It is where I grew up and learned all aspects of fishing for Walleye, smallmouth and panfish.
2. St. Mary's River System - Sault Ste. Marie, MI (Michigan/Ontario boarder waters) The scenery and fishing is incredible. Hands down the most diverse fishery in North America in terms of species of fish and opportunities.
3. Lake of the Woods- Incredible fishery and truly God's country.
4. Florida Keys - I have a huge passion for Saltwater fishing and the Keys offer it all both inshore and offshore.
5. Devils Lake or Missouri River System - Truly a toss up. Both are phenomenal fisheries and places to visit. There is something to be said for the Devils Lake walleye factory that keeps putting out excellent numbers of fish. I love being able to cast cranks or fish slip bobbers and catch the quality of fish you do year in and year out on Devils Lake. It is truly one of the only bodies of water you can target and catch walleyes using just about any technique you can imagine.
Juls: Who are some of your fishing idols? Who did you look up to when you first got into tournament fishing?
Greg: Freshwater- Hands down Al Lindner. I watched In-Fisherman television religiously when I was growing up. He brought excitement and entertainment to fishing television with a high energy punch. I'm not into the picnic table conversation types. I like the "In your face" approach and that's what Al and his crew brought then and still bring it today. When I was working with Lund I met Al at a Lund Dealer Meeting finally in 2005 at Arrowwood Resort in MN. I had the opportunity to sit down and eat lunch with Al and legendary Minnesota guide and angler Tom Nuestrom and share with them the story of me setting up two five gallon buckets in my parent's living room every Saturday before the show started. I would have rock and sand in one bucket and rocks and wood in the other and I would sit there and vertical jig throughout the entire show while watching it just getting the feel down bouncing a light jighead off the different types of structure in the bucket. Al looked at me puzzled with a smile and said to me "You are sick, I love it!" As far as tournament anglers I would say Mark Martin and Gary Roach as well as Scott and Marty Glorvigen were inspirations when I was first getting my feet wet with competitive angling.
Juls: Do you do any kids events?
Greg: Yes! As many events as possible and as often as I can. I love hosting, working, helping out at any kid's events! I was a director for a Kids N' Fish program for many years in Southern Michigan when I was in the Outdoor Retail business. I've also worked with organizations such as PROJECT FISH, Salvation Army Outdoors and have worked and hosted many of the Cabelas MWC kids events over the years as well as many of the AIM and RCL events as well. I truly love teaching kids how to set up their fishing rods to go fishing and it is absolutely awesome watching them catching fish. The smiles and memories are priceless.
Juls: What is your favorite presentation to use? What is the most fun for you?
Greg: Pitching light jigs to shallow fish. Nothing like grabbing my St. Croix LES 63 MXF and pitching a 1/8 oz -1/4 oz Northland Fireball , Gumball Jig, Thumper Jig or Mimic Minnow into shallow water and using a lift -drop hop- hop retrieve pattern and just waiting to feel that light "tick" or see that line jump and setting the hook on a toothy eye. I love it! Getting the chills right now thinking about it!!!
Juls: How do you break down a body of water you've never fished before? How do you approach your prefishing?
Greg: Check with local bait shops. They are often a great source of information. Also check local fishing websites for the area. Many times anglers will share any hot info about techniques, presentationss and what is working the best at that time. Checking with local guides or outfitters or hiring one is a great way if you are going to a place for the fist time. I don't get a chance to do this as much as I'd like due to my travel schedules but if I can recommend two sources for helping you breakdown water from home or your hotel room; first, get a high quality mapping unit or combination mapping/ sonar unit. I love the Lowrance HDS series of sonar/mapping units. They are user friendly and are very reliable and easy to view. Once you have your mapping unit I can honestly say the most important part of my arsenal for breaking down a body of water is the electronic charts available from Navionics out of Wareham, MA. These electronic charts are incredibly effective and accurate when you are breaking down a body of water. You can pinpoint contours, underwater points, transition areas and underwater structure that can otherwise go undetected. As far as Navigation day or night these charts are so incredibly dialed in that you have confidence you are going to be able to make your runs effectively and efficiently without having to worry about unknown hazards that may lie ahead.
Juls: What are you most proud of in your life?
Greg: My wife Stephanie and our three wonderful children (daughter - Hunter) and (son - Colton and youngest son - Wyatt) who all love to fish and hunt with me. I am also thankful for my wonderful parents Barbara and Jerry for putting up with my passion for fishing as a kid and my entire family as well! In addition I have a great job in the industry that I love and many great friends and relationships both inside and outside the fishing and boating world. Also I am glad to have attained my USCG Licensed Charter Captains Licenses so I can take anglers and families out and show them a good time fishing and hopefully teach them something throughout the course of the trip.
Juls: If you could only give ONE piece of advice to a new angler who wanted to start fishing tournaments professionally, what would that be?
Greg: Make sure you get involved with many of the "grass roots" tournament circuits available out there. Fish a complete circuit a couple of years at the Team level and make sure it is something you want to do. Take things in small steps and eventually they will turn into long strides. Try to learn something new at every body of water you visit and do not become complacent like you think you know it all. We all at some point or another think we have it all figured out only to be humbled quickly by the gamefish we are pursuing. Many think competing at the professional level is all fun and glory. The truth is that competitive angling at the professional level is very expensive and it takes a lot of time and commitment with travel being away from the family and work. I love it and welcome the challenges and competition and am very lucky to have a family and employer who believe in what I do on the competitive angling side. If you compete for a few years on the team circuits and decide you want to go at the Pro-Am format then try not to bite off to much at one time. Do as many tournaments you think you can and still be effective both on the water and in your day to day life. I can tell you first hand don't spread yourself to thin! If you have a plan and focus on that plan you will have a much better chance of achieving your goal.