Now that George Cochran has retired from professional bass fishing, the Arkansas angler doesn't mind sharing all of his bass fishing secrets with other fishermen.
“One good thing now when I teach people, I tell them all the truth,” said the 62-year-old Cochran. “I didn't lie before. I just didn't tell it all.”
Cochran, the only man to ever win both a Bassmaster Classic and a FLW championship, will be sharing his knowledge at Rose State College this month as part of a Bass Fishing Techniques class. Also teaching sessions will be celebrity fisherman Jimmy Houston, pro angler Kenyon Hill and Oklahoma fishing guides Ivan Martin and Bob Myers.
Cochran retired last year with two Bassmaster Classic crowns and an FLW championship. The Hot Springs, Ark., resident quit his job as a brakeman for the railroad and started fishing full-time for a living after winning the 1987 Bassmaster Classic, a tournament that he won with some deception.
The conventional wisdom in the 1987 Bassmaster Classic in Lousiville, Ky., is that the competitors were going to have to run several miles up the Ohio River through a couple of lock and dams to catch fish in the August tournament.
In practice, Cochran had found bass in a weedy area near the launch. He was fishing in the remote spot only because his 9-year-old son was with him that day. There were storms in the forecast that day and he wanted to be close by to trailer his boat quickly.
“We had a heck of a day fishing,” Cochran said.
Cochran decided it was as good as any area on the river to fish during the tournament. But he didn't want any of his competitors to find out about it. So after takeoff during the tournament, Cochran would run up the river several miles and then pretend have trouble with his boat motor.
“I took off like I am running to the lock and pulled over two or three miles before I got there and acted liked I had motor trouble,” Cochran said. “Once everybody got on by, I would crank it back up and come back a mile or two from the takeoff.”
In 1987, there was no Internet and cellphones. Cochran was able to keep the spot to himself for most of the tournament. The last day of the tournament some other anglers caught on to his honey hole, but by then it was too late.
Cochran had built too big of a lead by catching fish on a Mr. Twister purple worm and a small Strike King spinner bait. Cochran won his first Bassmaster Classic.
It was not the last time that Cochran would go against conventional wisdom. He won his second Bassmaster Classic in 1996 on Alabama's Lay Lake by fishing in a foot of water in 100-degree weather.
Everyone thought before the tournament that bass would be holding deep along river edges to escape the brutal heat. Cochran caught more bass than anyone else by fishing a shallow, dingy stump-filled pool using a Colorado-blade spinner bait.
A few years later, Cochran was one of the pros who left BASS and started fishing on the FLW tour because of the increased purses.
Cochran went against the grain again to win the 2005 FLW Championship on Lake Hamilton near Hot Springs, Ark. The hot temperatures persuaded the field to fish deep around brush piles to catch bass.
Cochran tried that technique during practice days but never caught a keeper. The last two days of practice he fished shallow with a topwater lure and caught fish.
“I knew then what I was going to do for the rest of the tournament,” he said.
Cochran earned $50,000 for winning his first Bassmaster Classic; $100,000 for the second one; and $500,000 for the FLW title.
“I've been known to go against the grain and it's paid off big for me over the years,” Cochran.
George Cochran on this month's Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake
“It's a good winter lake. Unless the weather is brutal, there will be a lot of fish caught. I think it will take 20 pounds a day to win unless the weather gets ugly. The water is going to be cold, like in the '40s. It can be won on other lures, but a jig in cold water, a jerk bait in cold water and a drop shot in cold water, those should be good.”
On duck hunting in Arkansas:
“I've always been an avid duck hunter. That's my passion. This year was one of the best years we've had since I can remember. We killed them from opening day until the last day. It hadn't been that cold but we've been covered up in ducks. Duck hunting is about water. If you got a lot of water, you are going to have a lot of ducks.”
Bass fishing classes at Tulsa Community College
Bass Fishing Techniques
Where: Rose State College, part of the school's Outdoor College.
When: Feb. 12.
Instructor: Jimmy Houston.
Topics: Fishing spinnerbaits, flipping and pitching, techniques for locating bass.
When: Feb. 19.
Instructor: Kenyon Hill.
Topics: Finesse fishing, finesse jig fishing, tackle and tactics for fishing the Carolina Rig and Alabama Rig.
When: Feb. 26.
Instructor: George Cochran.
Topics: Flipping and pitching, topwater fishing, jerkbait fishing and fishing squarebill crankbaits.
When: March 5.
Instructors: Ivan Martin and Bob Myers.
Topics: Seasonal patterns, lures and tactics for fishing Grand Lake, Lake Murray and other Oklahoma lakes.
Cost of the four-week session is $99. For more information, call 733-7392.
Bass Fishing Techniques will be taught at Tulsa Community College beginning Feb. 13.
Instructors for the classes will be former Bassmaster Classic champions Paul Elias and Ken Cook, Wagoner pro angler Tommy Biffle, former BASS pro Jim Morton and Grand Lake fishing guide Ivan Martin.
Classes are scheduled Feb. 13, Feb. 20, Feb. 26 and March 4. Enrollment fee is $99. To enroll, call (918) 595-7200.