After winning the 2006 Bassmaster Classic, Washington state native Luke Clausen bounced around the Southeastern portion of the U.S. for several years while competing on the FLW Tour. He spent a good deal of time living in Nashville and then moved on to Atlanta for a while.

Residing in those places put him a lot closer to the epicenter of the sport, and that was a good thing –

or at least he viewed it that way at the time. Now the 33-year-old bachelor is back in the Pacific Northwest, within a few minutes' drive of numerous family members and a lot of the friends he grew up with in the Spokane area, and he says he couldn't be happier.

"It's nice to get away from it all up here and I think it really helps me mentally," he said. "Back there I was just immersed in fishing – I had a one-track mind and that's all I thought about the whole time. I was pretty one-dimensional.

"If I wasn't thinking about fishing, I was talking about it or working on fishing stuff. Up here I've got my friends and family and hunting and a couple of other business ventures, and it's kind of nice to have a dog again and live somewhat of a normal lifestyle.

"It's nice to be around some people who don't fish."

Erratic but Lucrative

How good Clausen's 2011 season was depends on the perspective from which it's judged. It was nowhere near his most consistent, but he won at the tour level for the first time since that '06 Classic at Florida's Lake Toho and logged a couple of other Top 10s.

From one important aspect – the financial end of it – it was an extremely strong year. He pocketed more than $240,000 from the Majors, Opens and Forrest Wood Cup combined.

"From the amount of money I won, it was a good season," he said. "My goal has always been to fish for a living and the more I make, the longer I can keep doing this. So from that standpoint I'm pretty happy, but I also know there's room for improvement."

His win came at the Potomac River Open in June, and he was 4th in the Forrest Wood Cup in August and 9th in the Open at Guntersville last month. But in the other eight events his average finish was 54th.

"My better finishes seemed to come not from what I learned in practice, but when I broke free from that and figured out something on the first or second day of the tournament," he said. "Over the last few years there were a lot of times when I had enough figured out after practice to get a check, but not enough to give myself a chance of winning.

"In some of my worst finishes (this year) I was catching numbers of fish, but they weren't the right quality a lot of the time. I was fishing sort of scared sometimes – I thought those fish were going to get bigger than they were. They never did, and I never left."

The Right Mix

Clausen would like to regain some of his previous consistency in 2012, but he naturally wants to drop in some more single-digit finishes, too. He has a lot of seasoning for his age and badly wants to win an Angler of the Year (AOY) title.

"I always set real lofty goals of winning the AOY and winning a couple of events," he said. "Maybe I'm setting myself up for disappointment, but I think if you're happy with anything less then you're never going to achieve those kinds of things.

"If you can mix consistency with a couple of wins, you're going to be hard to beat when the AOY comes around."

He's given the 2012 schedule a few cursory glances, but he's nowhere close to having it memorized.

"Every year there are always lakes I'm excited about and some lakes that I dread, but the bottom line is you never know where your good finishes are going to come from. I'm glad we're going up north (to Champlain) because fishing for smallmouth is what I grew up doing, and Table Rock is always a fun place to go.

"The schedule is what it is and all I can do is take it one tournament at a time."