The following 10 New Year's Resolutions have been compiled from scores of interviews with Elite Series anglers. Adopt them for 2012, and you'll catch more bass.
I'm going to read — better make that study — every how-to article in Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and on Bassmaster.com that I can. I'll apply what I've learned to my local fishing waters. The cutting edge, seasonal information those articles contain will not go to waste.
I'm going to keep a fishing log — for every trip I take. That way I'll have a record containing relevant information that'll help me catch bass another day. And I'll keep records from my failures, too. That way I won't make the same mistakes over and over again.
I'm going to spend two or three days in the boat with one of those guys and learn from them. I'll get a good night's rest and pay attention all day long. I'll ask questions and take notes. When it's over, I'll benefit from their years of experience.
It might be the structure on a spot I've never fished, or how far out a drop extends, or maybe how my new bait performs on different sized lines. Regardless, it'll be something I didn't know before I started fishing that day. If I do this my knowledge base about bass fishing will expand on a regular basis. I'll not go fishing another day without learning something new.
Instead of always fishing the same way with the same lures, I'm going to learn a couple of new techniques this year. Maybe I'll learn to drop shot more effectively or maybe how to crank a deep ledge. I'm going to work hard and learn the details, the nuances, that make a difference.
Time on the water is precious. I'm tired of wasting it. I'm going to organize my tackle so I can find what I want when I want. And I'm going to put things back where they belong so I can find them the next time I need them. I'll not waste my time looking for my favorite lure ever again.
Rather than mindlessly throwing at the bank, I'm going to look at it and try to determine where the bass are hiding and where I should be throwing. That'll make me more efficient; my lure will spend more time in fish catching water. I'm not going to waste another cast.
I want to be able to put my lure into places where the other guys can't. The only way to be able to do that is by practicing. When I'm done, I'll be able to skip under a dock or pitch into a coffee cup-size hole 50 feet away. If I can do that I'll be able to fish freshwater all day even on my highly pressured local lake because I'll be fishing for bass that others miss.
This year I'm going to attend every meeting, volunteer for club projects and maybe run for an office. The more active I am in my club, the more information I'll get from the members. The more information I get from the members, the more bass I'll catch. I'll not spend another year sitting in the back row doing nothing.
This year I intend to fish every tournament until the last minute. There'll be no more slowing down at noon just because I haven't caught anything, just because I'm discouraged, just because I'm tired. "The last cast is as good as the first cast" will be my motto for 2012. I'll not waste another minute of tournament time.
Originally published December 2008.