By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Matt Becker hasn't struggled much since becoming a tour-level angler in 2018. He was the FLW Tour Rookie of the Year in his initial campaign, when he finished 32nd on the final points list, then improved to 14th last year and sits at No. 2 through the three Pro Circuit events that have been contested in 2020.
The 27-year-old Pennsylvanian was on a strong run before the coronavirus pandemic brought the season to a halt: Dating back to April 2019, he's finished 24th or better in five of his last six outings. With placements of 20th at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, 23rd at the Harris Chain of Lakes and a career-best 4th at Lake Martin this year, he trails only leader Ron Nelson on the AOY list.
"I've just been trying to take each tournament one at a time," the Pennsylvanian said. "I've got a lot more confidence in myself and my decision-making now.
"Going back a year or so, Chickamauga (where he finished 132nd a year ago this week) was the only time I felt lost. Even last season, the tournaments where I just got a check or just missed one, I still felt I was around the right fish and a lost one here or there could've made a big difference. Things have been good."
Spin To Win Money
Becker's roots are in finesse fishing, but his record indicates that he's become quite adept at various styles of fishing. In 19 career events as a pro, he's finished outside the top 50 on just six occasions.
Nonetheless, he said his string of strong finishes over the past year has been achieved primarily with light-line tactics.
"I've had a spinning rod in my hand more often than not," he said. "That's basically what I started with when I got into bass fishing and it's still what I'm most comfortable with. I've had to expand into power fishing, which seems to be the opposite of what the average (tour pro) does – they start with power fishing and expand the other way.
"I love throwing a topwater as much as anything, but you have to look at this as a business and you have to do whatever you need to do to get paid. If what you're doing isn't working, you've got to pick up something you can get bit on."
Staying in Tune
It's unlikely that Becker's game will be rusty whenever the 2020 season resumes. He's been out on Lake Erie (or one of several smaller bodies of water in the Pittsburgh area) just about every day that the weather allows.
An excursion to Erie that he and a friend took last week was featured on FLW's Instagram page. The goal was to catch 100 fish for the day and after 10 hours they came up four shy of that mark.
Their biggest specimen was a 6 1/4-pound smallmouth and their heaviest five combined to weigh in excess of 27 pounds.
"The big ones were biting," he said. "This is the best time of year to fish around here."
In his down time, he's laid plans to do some guiding and also aspires to conduct on-the-water classes for anglers wanting to become more proficient in the use of fish-finding electronics. He put out a social media post on the electronics training and ended up with a lengthy list of folks who expressed interest.
He laments that whatever Pro Circuit events that take place for the rest of the year are unlikely to be associated with the annual bass reproduction ritual.
"I do prefer fishing in the spring around the spawn and I think not having that is going to be a bigger factor for me than the break," he said. "This is my third year fishing the tour and I just haven't fished many of those Southern places in May or June.
"I hope I can just pick up where I left off. I've been doing everything I can to stay sharp and stay on top of the fish and keep my skills fresh as far as locating them, but when you've never done it, you don't really know what to expect.
"But I'm just ready to get back after this and I'll be anxious to fish anywhere," he concluded. "If they have to cancel everything except the championship or whatever, I just want to get back out there and try to keep this streak rolling."