Good isn't good enough, not anymore

I’m still down in Florida making good on my goal to catch a fish every single day. New Year’s Day was cold with a blustery wind. Nevertheless, I got one. All is well, at least for now.

This week I want to write about something I saw last week that I believe is affecting, and will continue to affect, out sport. That is its growing popularity. When I did the math from Lake Okeechobee over the weekend I realized that there were over 400 boats fishing various tournaments. That’s without counting all the recreational anglers out for a day on the water.

There’s good news and bad news in that. The good news is that our sport is holding its own in our society. It’s still popular. As long as that’s the case we don’t have much to worry about as far as fishing and the future is concerned. The bad news is that our waters and our fish are under an increasing amount of pressure.

I know that the Big O is a truly giant body of water. Still, we all know that the bass are not evenly distributed throughout the lake. It’s often said that 90 percent of them are in 10 percent of the water. That may or may not be exactly right but I’ll tell you it’s close. Any difference in the percentages is without meaning.

I don’t think this pressure hurts the bass population itself. They seem to be able to handle it, especially in rivers, reservoirs and lakes with lots of grass. However, I do think it conditions them and makes them harder to catch. They aren’t as gullible as they once were.

There was a time, many years ago, when that wasn’t true. In those days being a good bass angler was probably good enough. A good angler could catch them. Not so today. At best, good will get you a frustrating day on the water. At worse, good will get you a butt-whipping in front of all your buddies and fans.

There are a number of ways to get better than good. The first one, obviously, is to spend time on the water. Fishing is not something you can learn out of a book or by reading about it. That helps — a lot — but it doesn’t replace going fishing.

Another way is to fish with anglers who are better than you. That’s easy enough. None of us knows it all. Somebody is always better at something than we are. Along with this thought you should be aware that there are a couple of programs going where you can fish with Elite Series pros. If you’re a serious bass angler, the cost is probably worth it.

The final way I can think of right now is a program I’m involved with. It’s called Pro Patterns Exposed (www.propatterns.com). Basically, we’ve put a camera in the boat with Elite Series pros while they practice for a tournament. It runs nonstop, along with commentary, so you can see what it is that we do, the adjustments we make and how we approach putting a game-plan together.

Here’s my final thought: This is a growing sport. It’s getting more competitive by the hour. Good isn’t good enough, not anymore.

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