Christie makes splash as pro bass angler
Cherokee Nation citizen Jason Christie casts a spinnerbait during a 2011 Walmart FLW tour event at Lake Hartwell near Greenville, S.C. COURTESY PHOTO
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – For many people fishing is a hobby, something to do during weekends or away from work. But for Cherokee Nation citizen Jason Christie, fishing is a career.
Christie, 38, grew up fishing Tahlequah-area lakes. He said fishing is something he and his family have always done. He excelled at basketball in high school, earning a college scholarship at Bacone College in Muskogee for two years. He later attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah so he could fish. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from NSU in 1998 before coaching at Tenkiller School in Cherokee County.
While in college, he entered local fishing tournaments to earn extra money. It wasn’t until his coaching days that he thought of becoming a professional angler.
“As far as a career, it never really took off until after college,” he said. “I worked for nine years as a coach and I knew that sometime I wanted to do that, but wasn’t sure when it would be. Things worked out after a few years to where I was able to do it.”
Christie has competed on the national Forrest L. Wood Bass Tour the past four years and fishes 15 to 20 tournaments a year. The first three years he paid his expenses, but in 2011 he secured a sponsorship with Diet Mt. Dew to help with them. He attributes the sponsorship as a reason he ranked fourth nationally, his highest career ranking.
“The first three years, I did it solely on my dime,” he said. “Then this year, I hooked up with Diet Mt. Dew and they helped me financially a little bit and that made it easier. I can sit back and not worry about cashing checks and worry about trying to win.”
He also said he couldn’t attend as many tournaments if he didn’t have his family’s support.
“My wife is probably the biggest fan and my kids are, too,” he said. “They push me to go and they don’t hold me back so that works out good for us.”
Christie said dedication is the key to success and compares fishing to golf. He said much like a golf course, fishing conditions change from day to day depending on weather and time of day.
“Everyday it’s different and it’s learning,” he said. “It’s a game of trying to figure out a puzzle every day. There are some days I don’t figure it out, but when I do figure it out, it’s pretty rewarding. It’s mentally rewarding and financially rewarding if you figure it out on the right day.”
According to FLW’s website, Christie has earned $563,613 in his career. But he said money is only one reason he’s a professional angler. He also does it for the competition, attributing his college basketball career as an important factor.
“Playing in college has without a doubt, helped me in this career because it’s competing,” he said. “When everything gets tough, you don’t give up and you stay hooked up. So definitely being an athlete plays a role in the career I do now.”
When most people are away from their jobs, they don’t want to think about work. But Christie still enjoys fishing as a leisure activity and something to share with his family.
“I go fishing and it’s actually more fun for me to go ‘fun fishing’ around here than it is to go to New York or Florida fishing,” he said. “Because there’s no pressure and I can go back to the old times of just sitting back and catching a bunch of fish and not worry about TV cameras and stuff like that.”
Christie said he would fish professionally as long as he feels motivated to compete.
“As long as it’s worth missing time from the family and worth traveling 40,000 miles a year, I want to keep doing it,” he said. “The day that I wake up and I don’t want to go fishing, that’s the day I am going to quit.”
For more information, go to Christie’s Facebook page or email@example.com • 918-453-5087