January 27, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO grad Hartman keeps reeling ‘em in with pro fishing career

Jordan Hartman fell in love with fishing at a young age.


The 2014 St, Joseph-Ogden graduate would go with his grandfather and father to Norfolk Lake in Arkansas, casting lines into the water off the bank.


“I fell in love with it from the beginning,” he said.


Hartman said he would wake up on the weekends and watch Bassmasters, a show featuring people fishing on different lakes. Then, he and his dad would take their bass boat to Lake Shelbyville to fish.


Once Hartman got to SJO, he joined the bass fishing team and would spend his summers walking to the ponds in town to fish. Even then, Hartman wanted to fish in college. He got his chance when he enrolled at Murray State University and joined the bass fishing team.


Now, Hartman is fishing at the professional level winning the MLF Toyota Series at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee earlier this summer.


“My main goal is to fish for a living,” Hartman said. “After winning the event at Chickamauga, I am one step closer to being able to do that.”


Hartman said winning his first professional tournament was surreal, especially against some of the anglers who were competing.


“I am extremely blessed to be put in the situation to win and can’t thank the people who helped me get there enough,” he said.


Hartman has won lots of local tournaments on Kentucky Lake, including the biggest one of the year in early March, the Jet-A-Marina Classic.


Hartman won $7,000 in the Jet-A-Marina Classic and $50,000 in the Lake Chickamauga tournament.


“The money spent but the trophy lasts forever and that is what means most to me,” he said.


Hartman’s family and his girlfriend’s parents were at the event when he placed first.


“My family has been there for me since the day I started,” he said. “Having them and my girlfriend’s parents at the event I won was very special to me, and something I will never forget.”


Hartman said he enjoys being outside on the lake but also enjoys the chase when trying to catch a fish.


“You never really know what is on the end of your line when it bites,” he said. “Finding the fish on a body of water you have never been to is the coolest thing to me because based on the habitat and part of the country, they act differently.”


Hartman said that before a competition, he will look at the time of the year and how the lake lays out. Some lakes are primarily rocks, some are grass and some have clear water while others are dirty.


“The time of year matters for how the fish are acting and where they should be,” he said. “The number one thing that helps you learn is time on the water. There is no video or magazine that will teach you what actually being out there and doing it will. “


Hartman said the most challenging aspect of fishing are the things you cannot control, like weather and equipment failure. During competitions, there is a timer that goes all day with no timeouts. Anglers have eight hours to bring back the five biggest fish they can catch during the day.


“You’re essentially fishing against the clock all day,” he said.


Hartman said his favorite fishing-related memory came from when he lived in Illinois and also involved fishing against the clock. He and his friend, Dalton Brownfield, were fishing at a local tournament at Paris Lake.
Brownfield had just lost what they had thought was the winning fish.


“We figured that was our last chance to win with not much time to go in the tournament,” he said. “Moments later, I hooked one that was bigger and he basically sprawled into the lake to get it with the net. We ended up winning that night because of the teamwork between the two of us. Once again, the money didn’t mean anything but the time spent together on the water and that moment was something I’ll never forget.”

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