This article was written and published by the Professional Anglers Association.
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Chris Jackson used to make a living by catching bad guys on the streets of Birmingham.
Now he does it by catching bass.
Jackson is a full-time fishing guide on Lake Guntersville, one of the four impoundments on the Tennessee River flowing through north Alabama. When he’s not competing in PAA Tournament Series or Bassmaster Open tournaments or helping with a local event, Jackson is on the water putting clients on largemouth.
It’s a far cry from the days less than a decade ago when he wore a badge.
“I grew up around law enforcement because my father was in law enforcement in Jefferson County,” said Jackson, referring to the county where Birmingham is located. “I was involved in hostage rescue, combat shooting, drug interdiction entry teams and highway interdiction.”
Jackson began working for the Birmingham Police Department in 1996 at the South Precinct. He moved into the precinct’s anti-crime task force in 1997. Three years later, he made detective and was transferred into the narcotics division.
“I was there until 2003 when I started fishing full-time,” he said. “My wife wanted me to quit. She said I made more money fishing than being a policeman. So I started fishing.”
Some guys might have a tough time giving up a career so ingrained in their blood, but Jackson saw the upsides. More regular hours, less risk, more time with family … it wasn’t a terribly difficult decision.
“I knew I was getting paid every week,” he said “I might get shot at, but I was going to get a check for it. But this move was better for her. Our first date, she picked me up at the hospital. I had gotten run over during a bust and called her to cancel the date. I figured, you know, after getting run over by a vehicle it might not be such a great night for a date.
“She asked why I was canceling and I told her. Next thing I knew, she was down there at the hospital checking on me and picking me up for the evening. I knew then she was pretty special.”
Jackson’s wife is a school teacher and is working to obtain her doctorate. They’ve been together 12 years and, he laughs, she’s been in college the entire time. When she’s in school, he’s on Guntersville or, sometimes, Neely Henry Lake with clients. In winter he assists a law enforcement department in his home county with K9 training and school demonstrations.
“I’m still certified with the state,” he said. “I also keep my hours by training other departments in Narcotics Interdiction and tactical classes. I kept my certification just in case, and in winter I teach S.W.A.T schools and drug interdiction schools. That’s one of my passions.”
Jackson is part of ReserveFishing.com, an online site that provides anglers with access and reservations with guides on several lakes. The site is growing and adding more lakes and guides. It’s an easy way to research the guide, trip and then book the reservation.
With tournament season over for a few months, Jackson has time to work on Guntersville and get ready for next year.
“I fished the PAA Tournament Series events on Table Rock and Neely Henry, and I’m ready for next season to get here,” he said.