Every now and then the subject of local knowledge comes up when we talk about tournament performance. Does it matter? If so, how much does it matter?
There’s probably no tournament in recent memory that will tell us as much about the importance, or lack thereof, of local knowledge as this year’s GEICO Bassmaster Classic. A really high number of the anglers fishing it live in the Guntersville area and a bunch of others have years of experience on the lake.
Some of them can mark every ditch and channel there is as well as every rock that’s buried in the grass. They have a waypoint in their electronics for every spot they’ve ever caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds. Will that help them?
The answer to that is complicated. To begin with, it’ll depend a lot on the weather. If it’s warm and the fish are moving, it’ll probably help a lot. The local guys will know all about the travel paths and the stopping places. They’ll be able to find the fish quick. There’s no doubt that’ll be an advantage.
If it’s cold, though, much of that advantage will disappear. Winter fish are winter fish. Most of us know how to find them and we can usually figure out how to make them bite.
Forgetting about the weather for a moment, however, there is one negative that local knowledge creates, and it’s darn hard to overcome. That’s not fishing the moment. It’s one thing to finish strong. It’s something else again to win. Winners fish the moment.
That’s hard to do when your head is full of past experiences on the lake. That’s one reason why I think that so many local anglers struggle to win when it comes to big tournaments on their home waters. They fish the past. That’s almost never a good thing.
Now, let’s be clear about something. I’m not saying anything about any other angler that I wouldn’t say about myself. We all have the same problems to overcome. I know that every single time I fish a local lake up here I fight the urge to fish the way I did way back when.
To be brutally honest with you, that’s one of my biggest fears when it comes to fishing the Delaware River next August. I have a lot of history on that body of water. But I’ll have to put much of it out of my mind and fish the moment if I’m going to win.
They’ll bite if I put the right bait bait where it should be on the day, and at the time, I’m fishing the tournament. How they were biting years ago when I was out fishing with my uncle won’t count, at least not in a positive way.
So, I hope these last three columns have helped you get some perspective on the upcoming Classic. I can’t say that everything I’ve said will turn out to be accurate. I can say, however, that what I said represents what I’m thinking about.
If there’s any way possible, I suggest you try to attend. This time it’s for real.