Changing Things Up

Totally changing baits can often be your ticket to success

I was on the bubble for the 2002 CITGO BASS Masters Classic as I entered the final CITGO Bassmaster Tour Tournament Trail event of the season. My 30th place standing was good enough to get an invitation to Birmingham if I could just catch fish at Alabama's Lake Eufaula.My first day's catch was great. I was tied for 6th place and the Classic was calling. Flipping a black and blue jig tipped with a Berkley Power Craw trailer into shallow water gave me a 5-fish limit of respectable Eufaula bass. But as I entered the second day of competition, my successful jigging technique fell flat. I dropped to 30th place after two days of competition. My ranking for the Classic was shattered as I dropped to 42nd place overall in the yearly standings, 12 points out. With only one day of fishing left before the end of my tournament season, I knew I had to do something different. A good third day and I could maybe make my way back into Classic contention. Another poor outing and there would be no Birmingham for me. The pressure was on.

 I made the deliberate decision to change to another of my confidence baits, the Berkley Frenzy Pro 3/8-ounce Medium Diver. I knew the bass were still there and I gambled my whole season that I could catch them using a totally different way of fishing. I had just one chance left to make the Classic. It was all or nothing . I found a shallow stump bed on the main lake with submerged stumps. I'd cast the Frenzy Pro Diver with a chrome holographic perch pattern finish into water 4 to 6 feet deep with a steep ledge nearby that dropped to 25 feet. My goal was to retrieve steadily at just under a burn speed hoping to kick off the bottom and cover. My strikes often came after just a couple of cranks on the reel.My decision to switch to Frenzy hardbaits paid off. I had a strong limit, enough to let me finish 26th in the tournament and qualify for the Classic. I had the confidence to totally change my tactics and it worked.In any tournament, when one technique no longer works, an angler has to make a decision. All to often the choice is to hang on just a bit longer hoping those bass will return to the way they were yesterday. It's tough to start all over again. But that's what I did in Alabama and if an angler has confidence in the baits he chooses, the switch to a new fishing approach will often turn to success.

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