Clunn’s technology conundrum

One of the most cerebral anglers ever to fish professionally speaks on the subject of artificial intelligence vs. human instinct

According to Clunn, the greatest mistake is not repeating the exact cast you just made to catch a fish.

“First off, bass are often together, so there very well could be another there. With Power-Poles, you can click the button to put them down when you get bit and maintain optimum position,” he says.

A similar technology used by everyone I have ever interviewed on the Bassmaster Elite Series tour is Google Earth mapping.

“That is definitely a mind-blowing change and one that is a plus. I mean, anglers still have to study and understand what certain things mean in the environment, so from that perspective it is a little different from GPS. There is no doubt it would have changed things had it existed in the beginning,” Clunn says.

Clunn used to fly over areas before tournaments to look for grass and other key fish habitat.

“Now you can do that by simply getting on the computer. The only advantage flyovers had was we used to be able to do that right up close to tournament time, and we could get an idea of water levels, clarity, current vegetation growth, etc. Google Earth isn’t updated all the time, so it isn’t always accurate, but it gives you a mind-blowing look at areas we never dreamed possible back in the early days.”

One possible problem anglers have is too many choices and too much detail.

“Take an area like the Sabine River system site out of Orange, where we opened the Elite Series tour in 2013. You have virtually unlimited fishing areas with hundreds and hundreds of square miles of potential habitat. When you have the ability to microanalyze areas, you can overdo it. The key is taking a balanced approach,” he says.

Change is inevitable, and Clunn believes those who embrace it while remaining highly aware of nature and the fundamentals of fishing will be the future greats.

“Technology is great, but in the long run it cannot replace awareness. If you can feel subtle weather changes or discern particular water changes or simply feel something is about to happen, that is awareness, and I have always said that is more valuable than intelligence,” Clunn says.

He believes the angler who gets that aspect and is in-tune with technology will go far.

“Just because something is new does not mean it’s better. Some innovations are game changers, and others are hype,” Clunn says. “Technology in and of itself is neutral. It is the angler who chooses whether to master it or to let it master you.”