If you’re going to get better in this sport you have to practice. And, to really learn you have to have a good lake to fish. In my mind a good lake is one that’s close to where you live and has lots of different kinds of water along with plenty of different kinds of structure and cover. It needs a good population of bass living in it, too.
The good population part of what I’m saying is really important. It’s impossible to learn a new technique unless you’re catching fish when you’re doing it right and not catching them when you’re doing it wrong. How can you do that unless there’s a bunch of fish in the lake you’re fishing?
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Swimbait fishing is something I need to work on. It’s at the top of my must-learn list. Unfortunately, when it comes to those things I just don’t know much. They catch fish. There’s no doubt about that. I’ve seen firsthand what they can do on the right lake, under the right conditions and with the right angler throwing them. It’s scary. But I can’t say I know how to use them, at least not real well.
That’ll change, though. My intention is to learn to use them in the off-season so that when the occasion arises in a tournament I’ll be ready. Learning something during an Elite event, or during any other tournament for that matter, isn’t my idea of a good time. I can almost guarantee you that it’ll hurt you in the end, most times anyway.
The beauty of where I’m living now is that I can walk out my front door, drive a very short ways to the ramp and go to work. As a practical matter that means I can practice when conditions are right and I can learn at my own pace. You can’t do any better than that. It’s one of the reasons I’m here.
If it sounds like I’m really enthused about Guntersville, Alabama it’s because I am. If I’m getting better as an angler, and becoming more versatile and competitive, this place deserves much of the credit. I can concentrate on the task at hand. I don’t worry too much about my family and I can fish darn near any way I want. I’m not the only one who thinks this way, either. There are a bunch of professional bass anglers who live within an hour or so of here.
My strategy might not work for everyone. I know that it’s hard to pack up and move to another part of the country. I’m not saying everyone should do what we did. I am saying, though, that if you want to get better you need to find the right place to fish and then practice. There are no shortcuts in the sport of bass fishing, at least I don’t know of any.
Over the winter we’ll talk about how and when I fish specific lures and how and when I use specific techniques. What I do might not be the only way but it’s at least one way. It’ll give you a place to start if nothing else.