"Last summer I was fishing a small lake that's at about 4,600 feet elevation. It was a bright, sunny day," Mike Long says. "I had on a long-sleeved shirt and a buff that covered my head, ears and neck. I must have looked pretty strange to this other guy out there who was trout fishing. He asked if I was there to fish or rob a bank. I just laughed. I get that a lot. He was in a tank top and no hat."
Welcome to Part III of Mike Long's series on how to target the biggest bass of your life. As we progress, it should become more and more apparent that these 10 steps to the fish of a lifetime are all part of the same big picture. You can leave one or two out of the mix and still have an image, but it won't be as sharp or as focused as it needs to be if you really want to see "it." Taking proper care of you — the angler — ties directly to Long's second tip (having the right attitude) and it's inextricably linked to all of his advice.
"If you don't feel right, it's almost impossible to think right and have the right attitude," he explains. "Instead of focusing on what your bait's doing or how deep you should be fishing, you're wasting time and energy thinking about how tired you are or that you shouldn't have had that beer the night before. Even momentary lapses can cost you when you're talking about the biggest fish of your life."
Long takes personal care seriously. You can tell that at a glance. At 6 feet 4 inches tall and 220 pounds, Long looks like an athlete in excellent condition — a guy you probably wouldn't want to race or arm wrestle or challenge in a physical way. Even at 47, he's an imposing figure. You might think that with such physical gifts, he could "coast" … at least a little. After all, bass anglers aren't exactly known for their Greek god-like physiques.
But nothing could be further from the truth … at least for the world's foremost trophy bass angler. Long is grateful for his physical gifts, but he earned them, keeps them sharp through considerable time and dedication and relies upon them as an integral part of his trophy fishing approach. He'll be the first to say you don't need to be as big or as strong as he is to be successful, but you definitely need to take care of what you've got and keep yourself in shape to get the most out of your fishing.
"On my next pass around the lake — about an hour later — I saw the trout fisherman again. This time, the tank top was off, and he was turning red. I offered him some sunscreen. All he said in response was 'Do you think I'm some kind of a wimp?'"
"Sometimes you can get away with eating junk," says Long, "but when it comes to game time you need to be lean and mean." For Long, the body is an engine, a machine that requires the right fuel and the right maintenance if it's going to get the job done.
"If I'm going fishing on Saturday, by late Thursday I'm getting into my nutrition regimen by increasing my complex carbohydrates and cutting back on the simple sugars and fats. I'll have some pasta for dinner and plenty of fruits and vegetables on Friday. If I eat too much of the wrong stuff — candy, soft drinks, processed sugars — I'll be sluggish, 'gummed up,' and I won't feel as good as I should when I'm fishing."