Elite Series pro Charlie Youngers started out a lot like the rest of us. He really wanted to catch a heavy tournament limit of five bass in just a cast or two. On some level, he strived to put 20 pounds in the boat in a couple of throws, becoming a little frustrated or anxious when it didn't happen.
But then — and this was way before he started fishing big-money bass tournaments — he came to his senses and realized that unless you get really lucky, you're going to have to take things a bit slower.
"I do my best fishing when I concentrate on catching one fish at a time," the pro explains. "I realize it's easy to look at someone else's big bag of bass and start wishing you had found the ultimate honeyhole, but it's a lot better to understand that you might have to run all over the lake — catching one here and another there — to put together a good bunch of fish. If you do it right, though, and have the right attitude, you'll eventually put five good ones in your livewell or just have a better day on the water."
Youngers learned his lesson about taking things one bass at a time when he started fishing tournaments outside of his home state of Florida.
"We tend to fish pretty slowly in Florida," Youngers says, "because the Florida subspecies of largemouth tends to demand that. They can really shut down after fronts, and you just have to grind things out."
But when he got outside of Florida, Youngers found largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass that were often schooling and aggressive. They could sometimes be caught very quickly and in good numbers. It created a tendency to fish too fast and to fish over bass that might take a lure.
"By taking things one bass at a time, I'm a better a fisherman. I'm more versatile, and I'm more likely to discover the best pattern available on any given day," Youngers believes.
"I generally start out using power fishing techniques, but I'll quickly settle down and use finesse methods if I strongly believe I've missed bass with the power approach. When I feel pretty good about an area, I'll generally spend 15 or 20 minutes there trying a variety of things to get a bite — to make something happen. If I'm successful, it builds my confidence and puts me on track to catch more bass in similar places.
"If things don't work out, I'll try a different location or pattern until I figure something out. And I won't hesitate to come back to that same spot even if I didn't get a bite there the first time through. Timing can be really critical at times, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you're going to catch them.
"But you've got to remember to take things one bass at a time."