Unlocking Bass: 3 keys to a kicker

Once you have your limit, it's time to upgrade!

3. Ounce wise, pound foolish

Over the years, I've seen a lot of tournament fishermen really milk a spot. Maybe they're catching a bunch of two pounders on a main lake point and they have 10 or 11 pounds in the livewell. Instead of leaving those fish and going to look for a kicker that will really help them, they stay on the spot and continue to work it over, adding an ounce here and there but basically adding very little weight to their bag.

I think that's a mistake for two reasons.

First, that time could be used to make a real change in their catch. If they gamble just a little and try targeting some better fish, they could go from merely making a check to winning the tournament. You don't often do that by playing it safe with average fish.

Second, they might need those fish tomorrow. By catching too many today, they could be wrecking that spot or school for the rest of the tournament. They should be saving those bass. By culling all day with more average fish they think they're gaining ounces but they're really losing pounds from their catch over the next day or two.

I'll be the first to admit that my method of upgrading a tournament catch doesn't always work, but neither does anything else. What I can tell you is that it's worked for me a lot more often than not, and that I'll be using it until I find something better. Of course, a little luck helps, too!

"Hero or zero" is a popular phrase for the guys who gamble with their tournament strategy. It doesn't have to be that way. I much prefer "hero or still-in-the-money."

Give it a try.