Welcome to the first installment of "Mike Long Wants You to Catch the Biggest Bass of Your Life." This will be a 10-part series in which Mike will set out the basic framework of his trophy bass fishing methods. Think of it as the "big picture" or "the view from 30,000 feet," if you've been to too many business planning meetings lately.
Right up front, you should know that Mike didn't choose the title for this series without a lot of thought and consideration. Bass fishing experts — and especially trophy bass experts — aren't exactly known for being forthcoming ... and that includes Mike Long. For several decades he kept his lunker cards close to the vest lest someone else learn in a few minutes what had taken him years to grasp. When you're chasing the world record largemouth, that sort of secrecy is expected and even respected, but that was a different time and a different Mike Long.
Today, at 47, he's embarking on a new era of his "bass fishing journey." Instead of merely being an angler and trophy hunter, he's ready to be a teacher and a mentor. He now gets as much out of watching new and novice anglers succeed as he once did out of catching giant bass himself.
So that's what's in it for Mike — the satisfaction of teaching and paying it forward. What's in it for the rest of us is the chance to catch the biggest bass of our lives.
"I want to start with water selection because it's so basic to catching a big fish of any kind," Long says. "Quite simply, you can't catch what's not there. If there are no trophy bass in a body of water, you can't catch one there even if you do everything else right. On the flip side of that, if you're on a great body of water and do almost everything wrong, you at least have a chance to catch a giant."
For Long, choosing the right water for trophy bass fishing is a three step analysis involving (1) structural value, (2) forage and (3) history. They're all important, but he doesn't use them in equal parts.
"The term 'structural value' is one I use as shorthand for several factors, including the physical makeup of the lake, the structure and cover options and the water quality," Long explains.
"The basic blueprint of the lake or river system tells me several important things about its ability to produce big bass whether it's in California or Maine, Florida or Washington, and it doesn't matter if we're talking about largemouths, smallmouths or spotted bass. The initial assessments I make when considering structural value are critical for all bass species everywhere. You just have to adjust them to your region and the species you're targeting."