Fine Tuning During the Offseason with Grant Goldbeck
Strengthening Your Weakest Link with Elite Series Pro Gerald Swindle
Matt Herren is a rookie on the Bassmaster Elite Series trail, but it's a fallacy to consider him anything other than a veteran tournament competitor. Over the years, he's won tens of thousands of dollars not only from his Alabama cohorts, but from anglers around the country as well. And a sizeable percentage of those funds has been earned with a flipping stick in hand.
Whether you fish at the Elite Series level or just for weekend enjoyment, maximizing your success on the water depends on the ability to wring every last ounce of fish out of a given area. Even if you've found the ultimate school, no one wants to leave any fish behind.
Kota Kiriyama's blowout win in the 2008 Elite Series tournament on Lake Erie was no accident. His 93 pounds of smallmouth caught over four days, an average approaching 5 pounds per fish, were the result of a practice strategy that began several years earlier. While the average weekend angler may not have the time to approach every lake the same way, it provides a template for discovering subtle offshore structure.
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.
The conventional safety pin-style spinnerbait isn't going away anytime soon. Take a look in the boat of any Elite Series competitor and you'll see a wide variety of spinnerbaits in every color, size and blade configuration under the sun. The weekend angler would be wise to emulate this hyper-preparedness.
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.