Angler of the Week: Michael Neal
By Rachel Dubrovin
April 12, 2018
Right now, Major League Fishing Pro Michael Neal is competing in the FLW Tour on Lake Cumberland in Kentucky. We had a chance to catch up with him before he got on the lake, and he admitted that he’s not totally confident going into the competition.
“I’ve got mixed feelings,” Neal explained. “I feel like I could do really well, or not good, very easily. So I just have to go out there and see how it goes.”
Neal isn’t far from his home in Tennessee. But he’s used to fishing on Chickamauga on the Tennessee River system, which he says, is a bit different than Cumberland, a highland reservoir.
“Mostly smallmouth-dominated up here. Where at home, it’s mostly largemouth,” he said. “There are some similarities, but it’s not identical for sure.”
When it comes to competitions, Neal says he prefers largemouth lakes because largemouth bass are less nomadic and easier to predict.
“But as far as actually just going fun fishing, I’d rather catch smallmouth because they fight so much more and it’s just a more elusive fish,” he said.
This is the second year in a row that Neal has competed on Lake Cumberland with the FLW Tour. In 2017, Neal finished 23rd with 28-6.
At only 26 years old, Neal is one of the younger pro anglers. He says sometimes that gives him an advantage on the water because he can move around faster than some of the older guys.
“But at the same time, those guys have an advantage of the vast knowledge bank that they have over the younger guys. So it’s a tradeoff, either way. They know a lot more. But some of the things we know are different from what they know, the new-school way of thinking versus the old-school,” Neal explained.
Neal says he went pro in 2012, while he was a sophomore in college.
“I actually fished the tour and went to college at the same time,” he said.
After Neal earned his computer science degree, he says fishing became his full-time passion.
“Don’t know what I’ll ever do with it, but I got it,” Neal said of his degree. “That way, no matter whatever happens with fishing, I get hurt and can’t continue anymore, or whatever, I’ve always that to fall back on.”
It doesn't look like Neal will need to apply for a 9 to 5 desk job anytime soon. He’s won more than a half-million dollars on the FLW Tour, with three tournament wins. Now, Neal says he’s looking forward to his second year of competing in the MLF Selects.
“I feel like it suits my style to be able to fish the MLF way. And I like just not knowing where we’re going and just going, and not being able to have any preconceived notions. To me, that’s something totally different,” he explained.
You’ll see Neal compete on Lake Murray for Elimination Round 3 of the 2018 Challenge Select this Saturday on Outdoor Channel from 2-4pm ET.
About MLF’s ‘Angler of the Week’
Major League Fishing wants you to get to know your favorite anglers! That’s why we’re putting together a new angler profile every week in 2018. Check our site regularly for the latest and send us your questions for the anglers.