In March 2001, during a local tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Kelly Jones Jr. and his partner spotted a 12-pound largemouth on a bed tucked underneath some of Rayburn's famous flooded buckbrush. They already had 19 pounds in the livewell and this one would have easily locked up a win, but try as he might, every presentation Jones made to the bass snagged in the brush and the fish was never caught.
The common thread of fishing rivers, streams and tidal bass fisheries is undeniably the presence of moving water. In the case of rivers and streams, the water generally flows in one direction. For tidewater zones, influenced by the daily rise and fall of water known as the high and low tide, the opposite situation holds true. That being the case, finding yourself at the right place at the right time is more critical with tidal bass fishing than any other form of freshwater angling.
It can be a true test of character when a day of fishing turns into a day of watching as the angler you are sharing a boat with sets the hook time and again while you remain fishless. At some point, all bass anglers experience this frustration. How you deal with it can be the difference between a depressing day on the water and a successful trip for both anglers.
Few feelings are more heartbreaking than bowing up on a 5-pound bass only to have it pull free halfway back to the boat. For the weekend angler, in a split second the opportunity for a great photo has vanished and for a tournament angler, it could mean thousands of dollars.
Somewhere in the bowels of his Alabama home, Elite Series pro Aaron Martens has a crankbait graveyard with an inventory greater than the average tackle shop.
For many anglers, hook selection is an afterthought. Many times anglers don't consider the hook's wire size, or if it's an extra-wide gap or straight-shank hook, as long as it fits into the body of the bait, it's good to go.
Under the right conditions, even the most novice anglers will catch bass after bass on high-percentage baits such as spinnerbaits and small crankbaits. But imagine if in your earliest bass fishing experiences you were limited to using nothing but swimbaits. Chances are that you wouldn't be as eager to go again, given the bait's low-percentage yield.
Up until a few years ago, pro angler Cliff Pace didn't even own a spinning rod. The Mississippi resident relied on tried-and-true "bubba" tactics to excel in tournaments. But once he started to compete against the best of the best in the Bassmaster Elite Series, he realized that he needed to integrate finesse tactics into his arsenal, and that called for spinning tackle.
When bass fishermen get together to compare notes, it often devolves into a competition over whose boat is the fastest, whose boat handles rough water the best or whose boat has the best layout. It's only infrequently that we sit down and compare tow vehicles.
For the first time, the Elite Series Anglers have two years of schedules in front of them. With the recent announcement of the 2009 and 2010 Bassmaster Elite Series, and with a five-month break between the last 2008 event and the Bassmaster Classic, that gives them some time to consider how they'll approach the seasons to come.