2012 Bassmaster Classic Red River - Shreveport-Bossier City, LA, Feb 24 - 26, 2012

Fishing in Classic crowds

About the author

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens

Aaron Martens is the 2005 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and a four-time runner-up in the Bassmaster Classic. He's widely regarded as the best natural angler in the Elite Series.

First off, let me say congratulations to Chris Lane for winning the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. I'm really happy for Chris.

This week I want to talk about something I got to do a lot of at the Red River last weekend — fish in a crowd.

When I pulled into McDade Lake on the Red River, there were about 40 boats packed in there. Included in the 40 boats were 11 or 12 competitors and a bunch of spectators. The very first thing I did when I got there was pull out a spinning rod. I told myself I didn’t want to fish a spinning rod in this event, but I knew with the clear water, the boat traffic and the noise, I might need to downsize to get bit.

Before I started using the spinning rod, I made a few casts with a baitcaster with 14-pound line. I got bit, but I could tell by the way they were biting that I needed to downsize.

I downsized my line from the 14-pound test to 7-pound test. Along with the lighter line, I used a lighter weight. I switched from a 3/8 ounce weight to a 3/16 ounce and even a 1/8 ounce for a while. This allows the bait to fall more naturally and trigger bites that the others were missing.

The other thing I do in crowds is fish slower. I fish about half or a third as fast as I do when I'm not in a crowd. The other anglers in the area were fishing much faster, and I didn’t mind fishing behind them, I just did it slower and was able to catch more fish than them.

Sometimes it is not possible to downsize. Using really light line around a lot of wood, brush piles or other cover, especially in big fish water, will make it nearly impossible to land fish with light line. In cases like this, I might only be able to downsize the weight. I’ll still fish the heavier line, but by downsizing the weight I can give the bait the more natural presentation I mentioned above. This should get me a few more bites than the anglers who haven’t downsized.

There are occasions where slowing down or downsizing isn’t the answer. On a lake like Guntersville, I wouldn’t fish in a crowd, instead I would just move. You’ll have to determine whether downsizing and slowing down or just moving is a better choice. In McDade at the Classic, I didn’t have much of a choice on Friday (Day One of the Classic) because when I pulled in there with a little more than two hours to fish I was stuck there. I didn’t have enough time to move to another area and fill out my limit.

By downsizing and slowing down, I was able to put over 20 fish in the boat on the second day of the Classic; and I lost a big 6-pound class fish, or I would have had a great day and a real shot at capturing my first Bassmaster Classic.

Overall, I feel I fished hard and made some good decisions, I did gamble on Day Three with my only hope for a big comeback and that didn’t work out., but I had to go for it. I didn’t think I could win it in McDade, so I switched up and went for the win.

On another topic, the running I have been doing during the offseason is paying off already. I felt great for the entire Classic, the best I have ever felt on the water. My recovery each day was excellent, I woke up every morning at 100 percent. It really has me excited for the year.

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