Daniel Johnson

Lebanon's Daniel Johnson with a winning haul

Lebanon's Daniel Johnson --

The pandemic that swept the country and shut down most sports didn’t spare professional fishing.

“Most of the big tournaments were cancelled,” says Lebanon’s Daniel Johnson, one of the area’s top semi-pro anglers.

“I still fish some smaller local tournaments to keep on my game and stay honed, but nothing big. The bigger tournaments weren’t cancelled, just postponed, and we’ll get to fish them eventually.”

Johnson, whose day job is with Cumberland Real Estate, has been tournament fishing for years, but with no aspirations to become the next Bill Dance.

“I’m not interested in competing on a full-time level,” he says.

“I enjoy the competition, but I fish for the fun of it. It’s a hobby. When you get into that upper level it becomes too much work. I don’t do it to make a living.”

Nevertheless, he is a focused fisherman.

“I’ve always been competitive,” Johnson says. “I enjoy the challenge of competing against other good fishermen. One thing I like about tournament fishing is that, unlike a lot of other sports, it’s something you can continue to compete in late in life.”

Johnson, a graduate of Lebanon High School (Class of ‘98), earned a degree in Ag Business from Middle Tennessee State University.

He helped his dad Mark manage the family farm before shifting into the booming Wilson County real estate market.

He was never too busy to go fishing.

“I started fishing as a kid, as far back as I can remember,” he says. “My dad didn’t fish, so I’d go with some neighbors. We fished mostly in local creeks and ponds.”

Johnson began fishing some local tournaments, discovered he had a knack for it, and gradually branched out. Last year he fished 25-30 tournaments, mostly in or around Middle Tennessee.

“I fished a handful of regional tournaments, but not many,” he says. “They involve traveling, and I can’t take too much time off from work.”

Earlier this month Johnson found time to fish – and win – a tournament on Old Hickory lake. He topped 83 anglers from three states.

When fishing two-man tournaments, Johnson’s partner is fellow Lebanon angler Drew Boggs. Last year they won a major FLW Tournament on Kentucky Lake.

“Drew and I are long-time friends,” Johnson says. “We fish a lot alike, which is important when sharing a boat.”

They are also both avid deer hunters; almost every season Johnson and Boggs bag big trophy bucks.

Speaking of big, what’s Johnson’s largest largemouth?

“The biggest I’ve ever weighed in, in a tournament, was 8.42 pounds,” he says.

“I caught one bigger, but released it without weighing it.”

A friend describes Johnson as a “studious fisherman.”

“I learn as much as I can about the lake I’m fishing,” he says. “I study the habits of the fish and try to apply the best techniques to catch them.”

All that studying paid off. Johnson has learned how to land the lunkers.

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