By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Larry Nixon hasn't come close to winning an event on this year's MLF Pro Circuit. He hasn't even gotten within shouting distance of a Top-10 finish.
That suits the 70-year-old legend just fine, though. He hasn't posted anything resembling a bomb in his comeback campaign after sitting out 2020 due to shoulder-replacement surgery, and with only next week's derby at the St. Lawrence River remaining on the regular-season schedule, he's in excellent position to gain a berth in the TITLE Championship.
He's been a "Steady Eddie" through the five tournaments thus far, registering no finish higher than 37th and none lower than 82nd to settle in at No. 32 in the Angler of the Year race (the Top 50 qualify for the TITLE). On four occasions he's departed the launch site with a paycheck in hand and just barely missed out on a fifth.
"That's the way I planned it," he said this week. "With a new shoulder, I can't really do all the things I used to do. I shoot for a Top 50 in every tournament and let the stones fall where they may. Realistically, it's been a good year and I'm tickled with it – I'm not disappointed one bit.
"I just go fishing and try to make a check every time. The days of long boat rides and beating myself up are over."
For the first time in quite a few years, Nixon has fished without severe pain in his right (casting) shoulder. He had the surgery in December 2019 and had hoped to fish at least a partial schedule last year, but then all the COVID complications arose and his recovery progressed a bit slower than he'd originally hoped.
There's been one minor downside to the operation – it's negatively impacted his casting accuracy. His aim has improved considerably since the start of the season, but it's still off a bit.
"With the new shoulder, everything's not exactly the same as it was," he said. "When I first started out I couldn't hit within five feet of where I was shooting for. It's come back slowly, but surely."
The same phenomenon has also had an effect around his home in Arkansas.
"I don't think I'd ever missed a fly in my life, but now I can't hit one with a fly-swatter," he said with a chuckle. "I'll take a shot at one and end up saying, 'How did I miss that sucker?'''
A Battle Looms
Nixon says the St. Lawrence/1000 Islands venue is one that he's always enjoyed fishing, but all of his experience has been on the lower part of the system – either in Lake Ontario or close to it. The Pro Circuit event will launch well upriver out of Massena, N.Y., and Ontario will be off-limits to competitors.
It's not like Nixon would be tempted to make that run, anyway.
"I'll stay within about 25 miles of Massena and do what I can," he said. "This one's got me a little scared because I'm going to have to fight current and that's something I'm not fond of at this point. You just can't get out of it in the river.
"I'll try to get on a solid pattern where I can catch 17 to 19 pounds a day and that'll be good enough."