Fishing one day is very different than fishing three or four days, or even two days, in a tournament. You pretty much have to go for broke if you expect to win. It’s about trying to catch the biggest ones you can and dragging them to the scales.
There’s an element of gambling in swinging for the fences. I’ll admit that. That’s especially true if you work for a living and you’re out there with very limited knowledge. But if you practice properly — reread Lesson 2: Practicing for one-day tournaments — you can help yourself a great deal by fishing in the right places and in the right way. It’ll still be a gamble, just not a stupid one.
The most common approach is to set out with the idea of catching a limit of small fish and then trying to upgrade. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a reasonable approach. You’ll not hear me criticize it. But, let me give you another approach that will sometimes result in more pounds in your livewell at the end of the day.
A lot of times the best time to catch big fish is early in the morning. So, let’s think about reversing the process. Try to catch your big ones early and then go looking for a couple of keepers later in the day. Remember, two big fish often outweigh five little ones. And, in a surprising number of cases you’ll find a school and get a limit of big fish. Then you’re in good shape to win.
That’s what it’s all about. Tournaments aren’t won by the number of fish you catch. They’re won by how much weight you bring to the scales. Never forget that.
There’s no doubt that if you follow that strategy there will be days that are tough on you. Weigh-ins aren’t much fun when you haven’t caught them. You have to understand this and accept that it’s going to happen. There will be days when you go home like a whipped dog.
On the other hand, those times you win will remain forever in your mind. Having the confidence to go for broke and succeeding is a feeling like no other. Besides, what’s the point of weighing a small limit and getting nothing for it?
The only exception to what I’ve said up to now is if you’re trying to accumulate points and earn a spot in the postseason. When you’re in that position, you might want to make sure you catch a couple of keepers.
But even then you want to be careful about being too conservative. Sometimes you make a calculation that you only need so much weight or so many fish to make the cut, and then the other guys do better than you think they will. They’re in and you’re out. That’s the end of your season. You have no one to blame but yourself.
Think about winning the next time you fish a club event. Go for it, without regret. You’ll win your share.