Some guys look like they have it all, especially when it comes to bass fishing. Men like Rick Clunn, Mark Davis, Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese and Aaron Martens seem to have a natural ability to find bass. It's like you could drop them in the middle of the lake blindfolded and they'd come back with five keepers.
I'm not saying I don't have any of that, but I don't have as much of it as they do. I have to make up for that with hard work, but it's also smart work. Just busting a sweat isn't all this sport is about. You've got to bust a sweat doing the right things, the things that'll put you on fish.
My real strength is in my preparation. I study maps at home, I make lots and lots of notes, and I practice long hours. For me, that's what makes a difference. Actually that's what I've done all my life. It's how I became a respectable hockey player despite my small size, and it's how I made it through college.
My notes are detailed and complete. It's funny; they tell you in school that the real value in taking notes is in taking them, not rereading them. It's the concentration at the time that matters. It's the same in fishing. I can't make good notes without concentrating. When I concentrate I see details. When I see details I remember them.
When I practice for a tournament I work hard, and smart. I'm on the water early and I stay until dark, sometimes well after that. There's no hour-long lunch breaks, naps, phone calls or other stuff that wastes my time. It's my job to find bass. I try to do it right.
There are other theories that some guys follow. I recognize that. Some of them like to be well-rested, some like to chill-out mentally, and some can get away with short practices. They have that much natural talent. That's not me, however. I want to practice — train — like I'm going to compete.
Have you ever heard of the old runner's adage that says, "Train slow, run slow"? I agree with them. I compete like I practice. There's no in between. If I get used to half days, naps and long lunch breaks, I'll want to do that in the tournament. It's what my body will come to expect. I don't want that. I want to fish hard from the beginning to the end.
I'll tell you this, too. I can't tell you how many times I've learned a critical fact about the lake I'm fishing in the last 10 minutes of practice. That's the truth — the last 10 minutes. That's why you should never give up, not on anything at anytime. You never know when something positive's going to happen.
Train yourself to practice hard, and smart. You'll be better off for it.