By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Larry Nixon intends to compete on the FLW Pro Circuit in 2020, which would mark his 23rd consecutive season of fishing at the organization's top tier. Whether he actually does or not could depend on the opinion of a renowned orthopedic surgeon in Little Rock, Ark.

The Hall of Famer has an appointment next week with Dr. David Collins regarding his right shoulder, which has caused him severe pain for the last several years. If Collins decides that surgery is the best remedy, then Nixon will explore his options, which may include fishing only a partial Pro Circuit campaign or limiting himself to FLW Series events starting in the springtime (or whenever he's recovered enough to compete).

"I'm going to the main man this time and he'll decide the best course of action," the 69-year-old Nixon said. "Whatever he tells me, I'll probably just go ahead and get it done.

"I've had an MRI and I've had X-rays and there's no specific injury in there, but it's just worn out. There's no cartilage at all it's bone rubbing on bone and it's cutting into some things that are hurting the crap out of me."

Had to Have Help

It's not fishing itself that causes Nixon's severe pain in the shoulder, but rather a lot of the peripheral things that a competitive angler must do. He had to rely on 31-year-old roommate Joey Cifuentes to take care of a lot of that stuff this past season.

"If I hadn't had him around to put my boat cover on and fix flats and do everything like that, I might not have made it," Nixon said. "There's a whole lot to be said for having a young roommate.

"Putting the trolling motor in the water, putting rain gear on, putting the boat up at night all that stuff really hurts. Just fishing, I can go out there and as long as I'm not trying to make a mile-long cast, it doesn't bother me to set the hook or anything like that. It's not the up movement that bothers me, but stuff overhead. Throwing a 10XD is out of the question and a big spoon ain't happening anymore."

If he has to go under the knife, he hopes it can be for an innovative operation pioneered by Dr. Collins.

"It's not as intrusive as a full replacement and your get-well time is way quicker. After four months you're in excellent shape and after a year you're totally over it."

Business as Usual

Nixon said that if he does get to fish the Pro Circuit, its new status as a qualifying trail for the MLF Bass Pro Tour won't affect his mindset at all.

"If I was a younger fisherman and hadn't had the career I've had, it might affect my thinking," he said. "None of us really know what's going to happen in the future. MLF is very popular with some people and it's very unpopular with some, but that's the way tournament fishing's always been.

"Personally, I love watching MLF. And as a fisherman and a (former) guide, that's what I'm all about let's go out and catch all those suckers! But if I were fishing MLF right now, I'd set the world record for penalties by dropping fish on the floor at this point I don't have hands that can grab them. It's more of a young man's game. I can go out and catch five and I really like having a dip net."

The former Bassmaster Classic champion and two-time B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year is coming off a strong campaign in which he made the FLW Cup for the 17th time. He posted bombs in two of the first three events (99th at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and 145th at Lake Seminole), but finished among the top 35 in four of the final five regular-season derbies the lone exception being a 57th at Lake Champlain.

The situation with his shoulder being what it is, he won't set any performance-based objectives for 2020.

"My biggest goal is to go out and fish and have fun. I want to be pain-free and enjoy life and fish for fun.

"My career has been so good for so long and right now I've just got to do what I can. My shoulder is worn out, but it's done its job for a long time and hopefully it can get back into the condition where I can fish and have fun."