Justin Rackley started fishing with his father shortly after he could walk and entered his first tournament at the age of 18. He admits that his first love was baseball, but found himself on the water after a back injury left him unable to finish his senior year season. Instead of putting on the glove, Justin took up fishing tackle and his athlete’s instincts kicked in. At the 2007 BoatUS National Collegiate Bass Championship, Justin and fellow Aggie Trevor Knight came away with an astounding win for Texas A&M. The victory solidified Justin’s place in the angling community and status as a professional angler. Now, Justin shares his knowledge on television and his YouTube channel, LakeForkGuy.
OutdoorHub: Tell us a bit about how you transitioned from being a fishing guide and tournament angler to filming your own videos.
Justin: I started years ago just in the interest of seeing what it would be like to film myself out there on the water. For the last four years I’ve been a fishing guide and I recently started filming outdoors TV just as a hobby. At the time it was to see if I can catch a fish on camera. It eventually progressed to sharing my tournament experiences and everything I know about fishing.
What were your goals initially?
It was a bit of a social media tie-in, just to brag with friends and say “oh look how big this fish I caught was.” Then I started getting into television and really wanted to see if I could make a splash in the fishing community on YouTube. The more I saw out there the more I noticed there weren’t a lot of professional guides and anglers consistently putting up videos. Now I’m filming and editing and fishing as well, so it’s the perfect fit for me.
Who would you say are your mentors?
Definitely my dad. He got me into the sport when I was young and he was all about bass fishing. My dad was a huge influence along with several other professionals such as Wade Middleton, who for a long time had an influence on me. These were the guys I looked up to and wanted to be like.
How does being a tournament angler affect your filming style?
I still do professional tournaments, although not as many as I used to. I think definitely people give you more credibility. I fished against the best in the world. Being against these competitors who are really good on camera made it a great learning experience. I’ve learned a lot both on the fishing side and the filming side and now I try to share that through my videos.
What was your most difficult video to make?
Oh gosh. A few weeks ago I did a float on a kayak with a friend and the challenges of filming out of a kayak are numerous. I normally fish out of a bass boat but lately I’ve been on this kayak kick and it is extremely difficult to use a camera on the kayak. Just trying to film the fish along with being balanced on the kayak and actually bring the fish in. However, all said and done it’s pretty rewarding too.
You expected this question: what’s your favorite fish?
Definitely largemouth bass. They’re just fun to catch and such a diverse fish. I love the techniques and challenges associated with catching bass. They’re my number one fish. It’s also a species that everyone does something on. Bass in general in the United States is a popular and fun sportfish.
Have you ever learned something from a comment or a fan on YouTube?
Yeah, there are definitely a few guys who give me suggestions and once in awhile I’d go out and try it. That’s one of the great things about YouTube, you got this community of anglers and everybody shares what they learn. I’ve never fished up north so some guys would know a lot more about that than me. Then again I know some things better than them, so it’s a great trade-off.
Where would you like to go most for a fishing trip?
I have always wanted to go to Alaska, and fish for well, anything. Something about the Alaska wilderness really intrigued me. I would just like to go up there, fish and enjoy the scenery. I think that would be awesome.
We’d like to give our thanks to Justin for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to us. You can learn more about him on his website, and watch him hit the water in search for bass on YouTube. Check out some footage in the video below.
Editor’s note: This interview is part of a series with OutdoorHub’s featured video partners. Click here to read our interview with survival expert Dave Canterbury, and click here to read our interview with Addictive Fishing’s Kevin McCabe.
Image courtesy Justin Rackley