A couple of weeks ago, I was out on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville – my home lake and one of the best largemouth bass fisheries in the world – and I went four hours without a single bite.
If I’d had a Bassmaster LIVE cameraman with me, he might have nodded off in the back of the boat. If I had been part of a live show with cameras on four other anglers, they would have cut to the other guys in a hurry.
It hit me that day that those cameras are probably a little bit misleading to the folks watching at home.
Bassmaster LIVE has led to some great exposure for the sport – and since they do such a great job of producing that live show, it gives the impression that we’re all hammering the fish all the time.
That’s just not the case – and you shouldn’t let an action-packed live show make you feel bad the next time you have a tough day on the lake.
It happens to all of us more than you probably realize.
One thing you never see on Bassmaster LIVE is the 60 or 70 percent of the tournament field that is struggling just to be on the inside of the cut. But that scenario plays out at every event.
Even the guys who end up doing well in the Bassmaster Elite Series events often have to suffer through one or several really tough days of practice.
It’s happened to me plenty. I don’t know how many times I’ve fished a 13- or 14-hour day in practice with only two to five bites. We don’t just show up and start catching them right away.
I’ve sat in my boat plenty of times and just thought to myself, “Man, I suck. I can’t even get a bite right now.”
What I like to do when that happens is sit down, take a minute, look in my tackle box and pick out something different. When all else fails, I go to a shaky head with a Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper.
I turned to that bait a while back during a tough day on Alabama’s Smith Lake, and I caught the three biggest bass I caught all day in the last hour of the day.
The shaky head is like the high-percentage pass that gets a struggling quarterback out of a slump in a football game. That’s why I always have a shaky head rigged up in the boat – just in case I need a reminder that there are still fish in the lake.
If you’re setting your goals based on what’s happening for the Top 5 guys of an Elite Series event on Bassmaster LIVE, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
It’s like for me when I go play golf and I realize how tough golf really is. I watch how easy my brother, Kevin, makes it look. Then I go and play and I’m thinking, “Man, this is tough.” But you talk to him and he has tough days out there, too. All the golfers do. It’s the same thing with fishermen.
I’m sure some of you saw the recent Bassmaster LIVE telecast with my good friend and 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens. He fished three hours on Guntersville and had one bite.
It happens all over the country. It happened to me during the AOY Championship at Sturgeon Bay when I caught 16 fish in six days. That’s a place that’s supposed to be chocked full of fish, and I just couldn’t make it happen.
When you hit a tough spot, it’s important to realize that even the most successful pro anglers in the world have been through it more times than they care to count.
It’s bound to happen when you’re casting such a small bait in such a vast body of water.
Just keep casting – and whatever you do, don’t let the cameras fool you into believing you’re the only one who’s ever been through it.