With the advances in technology and available resources to rapidly increase a bass angler's knowledge, the learning curve commonly associated with success has been greatly reduced. So, what is it that consistently separates experienced anglers? The answer is confidence.
Elite Series pro Kevin VanDam believes confidence is the single most important factor when it comes to being successful on the water. "Without a doubt, you have to believe that what you're doing, and where you're throwing your bait, is going to be successful," the reigning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points out.
"One of the toughest things in the world is to go out there with a technique or lure that you don't have confidence in and be successful." If you spend time standing around a crowded launch ramp chatting with fellow anglers, it's common to hear phrases like "following your gut," or "going with your instincts." VanDam explains that following your instincts is always the best approach and will only increase your confidence on the water. "I think one of the biggest mistakes a lot of anglers make is they don't follow their instincts," he says.
"A lot of times an angler will get that gut feeling in their stomach about something they should try but they don't follow up on it. That's something you have to learn to do in order to be successful day in and day out." While VanDam concedes that developing confidence in a certain lure or technique takes time and experience, the ability to maintain a positive mental attitude should come naturally. As he explains, failing to remain positive of, and confident in, a successful outcome is the perfect recipe for failure.
"On a tough bite where things aren't quite going the way that I'd planned, one of the things that I've learned is to always try and make smart decisions — be it lure selection or location choices," he says. "As long as I'm fishing a lure or technique that I have confidence in, and in an area where I'm sure there'll be a fish, I always feel that I'm that much closer to success."
Even after fishing through areas that should produce, VanDam allows that it's all too common to find that nothing seems to be working. It's in these instances, he maintains, that being confident in your ultimate success will produce positive results.
However, he cautions that an angler must be receptive to the clues the fish are providing. "Again, you want to make smart choices and pick the right lures that are going to be efficient in the type of water that you are covering," VanDam explains. "You constantly have to be adjusting what you're doing based on the information you're receiving. That's fishing smart." Tough days on the water test the mettle of even the most confident of anglers; however, VanDam points out that when you're fishing smart, each adjustment should be made with the intention of producing positive results. "It's like sighting in a gun," he says. "You don't just keep shooting 3 inches high and to the left.
You make the adjustments needed, and with each one you're able to get that much closer to the center of the bull's eye."
(Provided by Z3 Media)