In the late ’90s, Julius Rauch and his buddy, Warren Girle, began fishing competitively. It started with a few local tournaments then morphed into larger tournaments in Louisiana and Texas. In 2000, he won the Anglers of the Year Award for the Redfish Tour. He never used live bait, and 99% of the fish were released after the tournament. He still fishes twice a week, and because he lives on a canal, the sport is convenient for him.
What reeled you into fishing?
I grew up with it. My father and I (used to fish together). I had five or six first cousins within five blocks, and as kids we would go to the creek and fish. Before I was a teenager, I would go with my father and relatives on trout fishing trips in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.
What is your favorite fish to catch?
Redfish. It is a great eating fish and a great fighting fish (it’s a challenge to catch). It is caught in 3 feet of water or less, and you sight-fish them in the summer. So, you can actually see your quarry, and you use your skills to isolate the fish that are the perfect size.
Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever fished?
Well, certainly Sarasota Bay is one of the premier fishing areas of the country. Each place I’ve fished has its own attributes: for sunsets, the China Sea; Chile is beautiful; the Keys; and the Everglades are magnificent for natural wildlife.
Can you tell us any stories from when you were fishing?
In Louisiana, you’re fishing in what they call “duck ponds” and heavily grassed areas. We came across a mother alligator (12 feet to 14 feet long) with all of her babies. They were basking in the sun, and we went by her (within three feet). She growled at us. I’ve seen a lot of sharks, too.
What’s your favorite aspect of fishing?
Selecting a fish you want to catch, presenting the bait, successfully hooking it, getting it to the boat and releasing it live.
What’s the most difficult aspect?
Equipment failure at the wrong time — mostly boat failure or engine problems.
What’s the biggest fish you’ve ever caught?
It was a 42-inch snook here in Sarasota. I was fortunate in the 1990s to catch a 19-pound snook that I entered in a tournament, and it was the winning fish.
What’s the breakfast of champions?
One or two fresh fruits, dried cereal, yogurt and, most importantly, two glasses of water. In fishing in this climate you need to hydrate an hour before you get on the water.