As a pro angler on the BASS Elite Series and in Major League Fishing, Keith Poche has to juggle home and traveling for work, all while being prepared for competitions.
By Dr. Todd A. Kuhn
Keith Poche is considered one of the young guns on the BASS Elite Series, as well as in Major League Fishing.
Poche attended Troy University in Alabama, where he played football for one season before being sidelined with a shoulder injury. Following surgery, he spent time on the water, beginning to fish seriously.
Poche fished local tournaments, then progressed to the BASS Weekend Series, and eventually the BASS Opens, where he qualified for the Elite Series.
Poche has had a strong run on the Elites, racking up 46 top 50 finishes, 21 top 20's, 7 top 10's and a third place finish at the 2012 Bassmaster Classic on the Red River in Shreveport, La. In 2014, he joined Major League Fishing.
Q: How did you get your start in the world of professional bass fishing?
- Keith: I fished growing up, but only for fun. I didn't fish my first tournament until I was in college. I started at the club level and worked my way to the pro level after a few years of competing locally.
Q: You fish on both the Bassmaster Elite Series and in Major League Fishing. How does the competition differ in each event?
- Keith: When fishing the Elites, we know where we're going to be fishing — so you have plenty of time to prepare. There's time to look around, practice and get a feel for the water. With MLF, you don't get that. Elites are four-days, with your weights carrying over from one day to the next. In the MLF format, you have to beat the other guys that day to advance, with your weights zeroing out. I really like the "no information" format of MLF. I feel like I'm on an even playing field with other fishermen and that gives me confidence. With the Elites, there are plenty of fishermen who have more resources than I do to help them find fish. Admittedly, that can be frustrating. For me, MLF is the purest form of competition.
Q: With MLF and BASS, you fish in bodies of water all across the country. How do you prepare for all the various places you go? What are you looking for when you're preparing tackle at home before you head out?
- Keith: I bring just about everything I own "just in case." With the Elites, I have a relatively good idea of what I'm going to do because I know where I'm going. That lets me prep my rod and reels with several techniques I feel like are going to work. But no matter where we go, I always have my "confidence techniques" and baits — the ones I know I can always catch fish on. Google Earth is also a big help — it's a great way to figure out what the lake has to offer in advance. With MLF, I just have to rig up a little of everything, just in case. Normally I end up fishing my strengths, though.
Q: One of the toughest parts of competing on two tours is the time spent away from home. How do you make the time you get at home with your wife and girls count?
- Keith: It is tough to be away from the family and it gets harder and harder each year. My wife and girls try to attend a couple events each year. Unfortunately, my wife still works and the girls are in school, so they have a limited amount of time they can be on the road. Nowadays, when I'm done fishing, I go straight home. I used to stop and fish other lakes or stop at a friend's house to break up the trip. Not anymore. Now I spend as much time as I can with my daughters — I take them to school, gymnastic practice and whatever else I can do.
Q: You modify a lot of the baits you compete with. What sorts of modifications do you make and how do you think that changes how you fish?
- Keith: Modifying baits can make them work better in a particular situation. One of the first ones I modified was a soft-plastic stickbait. Oddly enough, I turned it into a spinnerbait by adding a small spinner to the back of it, which gave it a lot of flash. I've also modified Zara Spooks by drilling holes and adding BB's for weight and noise. There is no limit to modifying baits — you're only limited by your imagination.
Q: You're known for fishing creeks and some of the places that other power fisherman might not go — what's your strategy when you go to a new body of water?
- Keith: Especially with MLF I want to find places that I feel haven't been pressured. These areas are hard to find, of course. That's why I focus on the backs of creeks.
Q: How do you mentally prepare before you compete/hit the road?
- Keith: I'm an organized person. If there is chaos, I can't function. So, I spend time getting everything set up and ready for the competition. That way, when it comes time to compete, my stress level is relatively low. I have everything where it's supposed to be and where I need it — that's big plus for my mental state.
Q: Do you have a morning routine or any pump-up songs or rituals that you do before competition?
- Keith: To get my mind right, I've got to get up really early. I feel a lot more prepared when I get going extra early. I like listening to Charlie Farley's "Exposed" — it was my nephew's favorite song.
Q: Other than fishing for a living, what is your dream job?
- Keith: Growing up I wanted to be an architect. I think that's why I'm always tinkering with baits — I like designing and working on things.
Q: Corn bread or biscuits?
- Keith: Oh, corn bread hands down. Corn bread goes with everything, and you can't beat it with a tall, cold glass of milk.