Brandon Craner’s construction company is currently paying most of his bills, but the Buhl resident’s second job is quickly taking over his life. As of May, Craner was ranked 58th overall in a field of 222 professional bass fishermen in the FLW Western Series. Not bad, considering this is his first year as a pro. In fact, Craner brought home a check for $11,000 in just his second professional tournament.
Fish for a living? Sounds good to Craner. If his blueprint continues to unfold, soon he will permanently trade in his hammer and tool belt for a fishing rod and tackle box. It will be a smooth transition, as Craner already possesses the tools to be a successful pro: He has the talent to whack bass with the big boys on the pro series, and he has the type of appeal, presence and personality that top sponsors crave.
Q: At pro bass tournaments, is the thrill in competing against the fish or the other fishermen?
A: It’s a little bit of both. If you can beat the fish, you’ve got it won and you don’t even have to worry about the other fishermen. But it’s not very often that you beat the fish because you’re in their world and it’s not easy. Basically what you’re trying to do is beat the other competitors at figuring out the fish. You can’t control what the other fishermen do, but you can control what you do with the fish in your area, so that’s what you have to focus on.
Q: At the California Delta tournament in March, you caught a 10-pound largemouth. What does it feel like to hook a monster like that in a competition?
A: It gives you chills. When you hook a fish like that, you know immediately that you have a good fish on. It’s a total rush. It’s like when you knock down your first bull elk. And to top it off, being able to catch those big fish in competition just adds to it. There’s nothing else like it.
Q: What is your favorite fishery in Idaho?
A: Honestly, it depends on the time of year. In March, you need to be at C.J. Strike. April, you need to be at Brownlee. In May, it’s Milner. June, it’s gotta be American Falls. July, go to Massacre Rocks or Lake Walcott. In August, boy, it’s getting hot and tough everywhere you go for the most part; you need to just find a body of water with a lot of shade. Overall, my favorite place to fish is American Falls.
Q: How did you get into tournament fishing?
A: I fished a lot as a kid. In high school I couldn’t afford a boat so I bought a float tube and I did every kind of fishing I could. Then I went to college and wasn’t really happy there. I started looking at boats one night on the internet and couldn’t get to sleep. I ended up buying a little aluminum Bass Tracker, found a local club in Twin Falls and started fishing. The first tournament I ever fished was at Hagerman. I brought my little aluminum boat down and I was hooked. It was all over.
Q: What kind of support does it take to fish professionally?
A: I have a wonderful wife, Jennifer, who takes care of everything and runs the construction company while I’m gone. There’s no way I could do it without her. My sponsors are awesome. Brad Perkins from Dry Creek Outfitters in Murtaugh supplies me with everything I need to fish. Western Marine is my boat dealer – if I have any boat problems, they become non-existent because they take care of them for me. I don’t have to worry about my boat, which is the biggest tool I have for tournaments. Gamma supplies all my fishing line, which is great because I go through a lot of it. And I pro staff Dobyns rods, which is a brand new line of rods out.
Q: What is the biggest misconception people might have about professional bass fishing?
A: A lot of people think that it’s all luck. Granted, there is some luck involved, but luck is when preparation meets opportunity. You still have to execute well and read the fish. You have to fish year-round to stay in tune and keep focused. It’s like being any other professional athlete; you have to work at it and practice all the time.