Week 45– Mike Auten
This season was truly a watershed year in the world of professional bass tournaments. First there was the announcement of the new Bassmaster Elite Series, followed by several adjustments to the rules and format of the series. There’ve been constant rumors about possible Professional Anglers Association (PAA) tournaments and the announcement of the new FLW Series. With all of these changes, anglers like Team Lucky Craft pro Mike Auten were faced with some tough career choices.
As with many pros, it came down to return-on-investment and cost-of-doing-business issues. Auten made his choices for 2006 based on what he learned during the 2005 season.
Auten didn’t have enough time on the water to execute his various gameplans at tour events this season.
“I feel that one of the biggest keys to success in tournaments is the ability to have a lot of time on the water,” he said. “Time on the water yields the kind of experience you can’t get by studying maps or articles. You need to be able to adapt to weather changes, water conditions, etc. The only way to do that is hands-on experience.
“This season with my business commitments, I didn’t have the kind of time necessary to perform as well as I can,” he added. “But I did have the ability to spend a lot of time with my friends and colleagues. I took away a greater appreciation of the passion they all have for this sport.
“With all of the financial challenges and the personal and family issues we all went through, it was truly rewarding. I certainly learned a lot from my friends and fellow competitors this season.”
Most pros can tell you specific dates and times of their errors while in competition. Auten is no different.
“It’s difficult to pick my biggest screw-ups this year, but two really stand out. Neither is actually a screw-up, but in both situations, I figured things out too late in the game.
“At Clarks Hill and Table Rock, I finally figured out how to catch the fish,” he said. “Of course by the time I did that, it was too late to make a difference. But that’s what it’s all about to me anyhow. I love to figure out how to get the fish to go without the help of somebody else.”
Auten is a pro angler, but also an established businessman in the bass-fishing industry. This season, he felt that Lucky Craft evolved into the best bait company in the game.
“It was really fun to see up close how Lucky Craft came of age this year,” he said. “It was nice to see this company mature like fine wine. I just knew it was going to be great, but it was a privilege to see it happen.
“Lucky Craft works so closely with the pro staff in any new developments,” he said. “That’s why they stand out so far from the other companies. That and when they want to develop a product, they make sure it’s the top of the line before it hits the marketplace.”
Auten will no longer be a regular at Bassmaster events this season. Instead he’s moved to the FLW Series and other FLW events to help promote his sponsors and the Classic Patterns television show.
“I had to really make some major career decisions this year,” he said. “First off, I’ve opted not to fish the (Bassmaster) Elite Series, even though I qualified to be there. I’ll be in the FLW Series and will fish some of the Stren Series events.
“My reasons for doing this are simple,” he noted. “It’s all business to me. I can invest 40% less into the FLW Series tournaments for the same financial return, if I place in the money. Plus, with the FLW Series, I can run my boat all 4 days and promote my sponsors.
“The FLW Outdoors show is on Fox Sport Network (FSN),” he added. “FSN reaches almost 80 million homes, so the exposure I could potentially get through my efforts there is just as great as the other option.
“In addition to all of that, our show, Classic Patterns, runs on FSN following FLW Outdoors on most of the affiliates. For me and my sponsors, it’s a natural tie-in to promote everything I’m involved with.”