10,000-hour rule for bass fishing revisited

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Brandon Card

Brandon Card

Tennessee’s Brandon Card, who competed for the University of Kentucky, is the first Bassmaster College Series angler to qualify for the Elite Series.

If my calculations are correct, last week as I bobbed around in the middle of Lake Ontario, I fished my 10,000th hour of serious bass fishing. Before the final Elite event of 2012, I wrote a blog about the 10,000 hour rule and how it theoretically takes that much time to be considered an expert at any skill. I can tell you I may be there on paper but still have so much to learn.

Hopeful there is some magic behind that 10,000th hour because at the last Elite event on the St. Lawrence River I had a day that made me feel several notches below “expert.”

I was having my best-ever week of catching smallmouth on a drop shot. Up until that week, I had never had an 18-pound day with the technique but entered Day 2 with four-straight such days. For whatever reason, that morning I started catching fish a lot smaller than the ones my areas had been producing. I got spun out, started watching the clock and thinking the worst. We have all done it, and it got the best of me. Lesson learned – I hope!

One lesson learned here in the last couple thousand hours is that there are venues on the Elite Series where “fishing your strength” will send you packing your bags after two days of competition. On the St. Lawrence River, I knew fishing my strengths would get me no better than 90th place. I at least went down learning a new technique and for 4 of my 5 days there I had confidence in drop shotting.

After the Elite event, I spent the next week developing confidence in my ability to make adjustments and catch 18 to 20 pounds on the technique. That helped tremendously with my confidence. Confidence is the key. Here’s an example of learning that fact early on from my first few thousand hours on the water.

Fishing deep on Douglas and Norris Lakes is a must to win events tournaments in East Tennessee. My brother, Jordan, and I would try and fish deep over and over again. We had many, many unsuccessful trips but still kept after it. One Saturday, we finally figured something out and had a good day. The next time out we caught them again and the weights started to go up. That’s how it worked for me. You have to prove to yourself that you can go out and catch 20 pounds. You have to build a history.

The second story happened in a similar fashion but the break-through was fishing with someone that already had confidence. Frog fishing was my nemesis early on but has become a favorite technique in recent years. I would watch guys catch them on television and try and go out and do it myself – without success. I would put it down and go back to catching fishing flipping. Finally a buddy named Steve Mui showed me how to do it in one trip. We were fishing it the same way but he had the confidence from a history of catching them.

Developing confidence comes from doing it yourself or watching it done in person. That’s one good reason to fish as a co-angler in a B.A.S.S. Nation club or sign up as an Elite Series Marshal. If B.A.S.S. comes to your town, do yourself a favor and sign up.  You will get to witness someone with confidence that they can catch a big bag on your lake.

This week I hope to carry some of my new confidence in drop shotting into 3 or 4 days of success. Time on the water is what I want, and I hope you fans will consider me worthy of the All-Star event. My sponsors are supporting my efforts with EmpireCovers giving away a new Bionic cover and Pinnacle providing gear if I am voted in. Please vote at www.bassmaster.com/vote.

Regardless of whether I am voted in or not, EmpireCovers is giving away a Bionic cover and offering discounts to all who enter the contest.

I think if I ever sat down and wrote a book, the title would be Becoming an Expert Bass Angler – The 40,000-Hour Rule.

Dare to fail!

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