I struggled quite a bit early this year. I’m not the type of angler to go out and have 50 fish days. To be honest, I go for bigger fish. Bigger lures. Slower presentations. I guess I just get more out of a few big fish than I do a day full of smaller bites. But this year was a little different. I found myself struggling for quantity and quality. Call it what you want, but my decision making was off.
So what exactly am I talking about? I’m talking about the actual locations in which I chose to fish. Now granted, take Lake Coeur d’Alene for example. It’s a HUGE lake, but talk to any local and it actually fishes small. How so? Different areas of the lake turn on at different times. If you’re not in one of those locations, you’re liable to experience heartbreak. Now I haven’t figured it out completely, but fishing a few tournaments has really turned my eye into some of the more productive areas. While you still have to break the bite down, some of these areas at least put you in the bucket of anglers who aren’t zeroing at the scale.
I approached tournaments this year completely different than “fun fishing”. Talk to any angler that is consistently at the top of the standings. They have a specific game plan, a specific location and generally, a few lures that dominate their landing ratio. While you may find feedback such as, “Oh I was junk fishing, doing whatever I can to get a bite,” winners aren’t searching during the tournament. They already found their fish in pre-fish…they are actually converting those fish to catches.
So a few things I wanted to pass along:
1). Have a game plan. Pre-fishing is meant to do just that. Get an idea of what the fish are doing, relating to, etc. But the main problem is that people stick their fish and wonder why they aren’t there come tournament day. Tournament day is for execution, not the other way around. Don’t forget that.
2). Pay attention to what the fish are telling you. Have you gone two hours without a bite? Chances are, something has changed. In my experience, even in the same locations, fish may change depth several times thorughout the day. Try moving out, or moving in. More often than not, you’re still around them if you were previously.
3). Trust your gut instinct. I can’t tell you how many times I figured things out too late. This weekend’s tournament at Silver Lake was just that. I could have won had I actually boated a missed largemouth on a frog and not given up a bigger fish up to my co-angler. Why would I do that? I had my limit and thought that I wasn’t going to win anyway. I would have cut a check had I trusted the voice in my head. “You just need one more cull”. Too little, too late.