Jerry Green had a pretty normal family life 5 years ago, before he decided to become a full-time tour pro. He and wife Linda both worked 40-hour-a-week jobs, his older son was in elementary school and the younger son went to daycare, and their household functioned much like millions of others in America.
That all changed when he joined the FLW Tour, and it was all for the better. Sons Ryan (12) and Riley (6) are home-schooled now, and when dad goes off to work, everybody else goes along for the ride.
"I don't regret it at all," said the native Texan who now resides in Cullman, Ala. "The steady paycheck (from his job as an electrician for a major oil company) was nice, but I get to spend a lot more quality time with my family now.
"When I was working and my wife was working and the kids were in daycare, we'd get home and we'd all be tired and we'd eat dinner and go to bed. Now we travel all over the place and it's a great family atmosphere. It works out real well."
They've experienced the major attractions in numerous locales, highlighted by visits to Disneyworld and Niagara Falls.
"Financially, we probably wouldn't have been able to do those things if it weren't for fishing. We're just lucky that that kind of stuff goes hand-in-hand with my work and we get to see a lot of the country."
The 40-year-old Green had his best pro season to date in 2008 as he finished 52nd or better in each of the last five regular-season events, including a 9th at Fort Loudoun-Tellico. He wound up 6th in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race and competed in his second consecutive Forrest Wood Cup.
He backed into his '07 Cup berth – at No. 57 in the points, he needed the assistance of several double-qualifiers as only the Top 40 were guaranteed entry. But this year was different. In fact, if a 123rd-place outing at Toho to start the season had been a little less dismal, he might've won the AOY.
He actually fished under a lot more financial pressure this year. He had an FLW team sponsorship with BF Goodrich in '07, but that evaporated when the tire company pulled out of the fishing industry.
"Without that help this year I had to become more of a check-chaser, and I think that actually helped with my consistency," he said. "And it doesn't look like we're going to have any help for next year, either, so it looks like I'll have to do the same thing again.
"But that's how it's been for the 5 years I've been out here, other than ('07). We're not rich – both my wife and I were raised blue-collar. I'm just very disappointed that I haven't been picked up (by another team). I'm not sure what else a man has to do."
He said an upgrade in his rods was also a factor in his improvement this year. He struck a product-only deal with Power Tackle.
"I'd been missing some fish, but this year was real clean with those new rods. They don't pay me a dime and they're a company that's just getting started, but they make an excellent rod for any situation.
"In the past I was buying my own stuff and I didn't always have the exact perfect rod for the technique I was doing. But this year, for the first time, I threw a crankbait on a cranking rod and a jig on a jig rod. It made a difference."
New Home Base
The Green clan recently pulled up stakes and moved from northwest Texas, where both Jerry and Linda had been raised, to Cullman, Ala. In addition to shortening their trips to and from tournaments, the move also gives Jerry a chance to try to rectify his biggest weakness as an angler.
His worst finishes have traditionally occurred toward the end of a tournament year, when the action moves to deep, clear reservoirs. But he's living on Lewis Smith Lake now and has fished there as often as possible recently.
"Something I need to work on is getting better in the fall," he said. "Typically that's a time that I've always spent hunting, and it shows in my fishing. But living here should help."
The fishing at Lewis Smith is much different than it was at Amistad, which was his home lake when he resided in the Lone Star State. But for big fish, he's got another option less than an hour's drive away.
"I'll tell you, Guntersville is pretty darn good. I had 29 1/2 pounds there the other day."
> Green climbed nearly 100 places this year in the BassFan World Rankings – from 145th to 49th.
> He said the highlight of his year was the Top-10 finish in the AOY race. "That's a goal I have every year, and I'd eventually like to win one. I'd also like to win (a Tour event) because that would help us out financially."
> Ryan, his oldest son, wants to follow in his footsteps and become a pro angler. "He practices with me at every event and he's become quite a fisherman – he's already caught a 10-pounder. He's counting the days until he turns 16 so he can fish as a co-angler."