After working in construction since graduating from high school, 36-year-old Alabamian Joshua Stracner took a year off to pursue his dream of becoming a Bassmaster Elite Series pro. After the first two Eastern Opens of 2020 he is fourth in the Eastern Opens Angler of the Year standings and halfway to this lofty goal.
“Right now is the best time in my life to try to make it,” Stracner said. “I’m fishing good, and I’ve had a lot of success the last couple of years. I’ve got a little money saved. If I do qualify for the Elites, I can afford to fish them.”
Stracner’s father, Jerry, is an avid bass fisherman. The father and son duo began fishing team tournaments together when Stracner was only 6 years old. Their primary stomping ground was Logan Martin Lake, only 15 minutes from their home.
“My dad still fishes a tournament with me from time to time,” Stracner said. “He loves fishing shallow water. He’s a big topwater and spinnerbait kind of guy.”
When the bass went deep in summertime, Stracner and his father would get after them with Carolina rigs and big crankbaits. These experiences helped Stracner become the well-rounded angler he is today.
At around age 16 Stracner became infatuated with deer hunting and fishing took a distant back seat. This phase lasted for several years.
“I didn’t get seriously back into fishing until I was 23 years old,” Stracner said. “That’s when I started fishing the BFLs and some of the other bigger trails on my own.”
Side imaging was just taking hold at that time. Stracner embraced it and the other advancements in electronics that soon followed.
“I fish now using a lot of electronics,” Stracner said. “If I had choice, I would fish offshore year around.”
In 2012 Stracner fished the Bassmaster Opens for the first time, competing in the three southern division events. He fished the Southern Opens again in 2017.
“I didn’t do any good,” he said “I made the final day just one time. I was too worried about the money side of it. You can’t have that on your mind fishing against those guys. They’re too good.”
By squirreling away money from his construction job and several tournament victories, Stracner saved enough cash to alleviate his financial worries while competing in the 2020 Eastern Opens. With a second-place finish at Kissimmee and 18th place at Hartwell, it appears to be paying off.
He fished offshore at both of these events. A Reaction Innovations Machete Worm and a swim jig coaxed bites from grass clumps and a hard spot at Kissimmee. Casting topwater baits, flukes and jerkbaits to cane piles was his ticket at Hartwell.
If Stracner fails to qualify for the Elites this year, he vows to fish the Central and Eastern Bassmaster Opens in 2021 to give it another shot.
Stracner’s sponsors include: Triton, Mercury Marine, Humminbird Electronics, Reaction Innovations, Power-Pole and the Tackle Trap Shop in Boaz, Ala.