Ish: The mental side of catching giant bass

In past columns we’ve talked about a variety of things you can do to increase your odds of catching a giant bass. What we haven’t talked about is the mental side of things, and that’s every bit as important as anything else. In a lot of ways it’s tougher, too.

If you’re going to hunt trophies you better be serious. If you’re a wimp, a sissy or an angler who gets easily frustrated you need to give up the hunt and go catch ordinary bass. Trophy bass fishing is for serious anglers only. Others need not apply.

There will be long, tough days and nights. You’ll fish many of them with only one or two bites, many others with no bites at all. Some of your friends will wonder what’s wrong with you. Why don’t you go catch some fish? In all likelihood you’ll ask yourself the same question.

The guys who are trying to catch a world record show us what trophy bass fishing is all about. They’ll often take off work during January, February and March with the single purpose of catching that one big fish. They know those months are prime and that if they’re going to be successful they have to be out there fishing. Work has to take a backseat sometimes.

Most of us can’t do that, and we aren’t looking for a world record. Still, their dedication is something to keep in mind. A couple of hours on Saturday morning won’t get it regardless of whether you’re looking for one in the teens or one that’s around 8 pounds or so.

What I just said about size is something to think about, too. In some places like California, Texas and Florida a 10-pound bass is big, but it’s also pretty much the norm. A ton of anglers have caught one that big. They’re not exactly common, but they’re not far from it. In other parts of the country a 10-pound bass is unrealistic. There isn’t any such thing.

Make sure your goals are realistic.

And, you need to be obsessive about your tackle and equipment. Everything has to be perfect. You only get one giant bass bite, most of the time anyway. A mistake can cost you the fish of a lifetime.

Secure knots and sharp hooks are enough for ordinary bass but they’re just the beginning for trophies. Is your drag set properly and is it smooth? Will your rod allow you to put the pressure you need on your bass? Is the deck of your boat clean and well-organized? Where’s your net?

If you’re sloppy, disorganized or too lazy to maintain your equipment go do something else because you won’t see many trophy bass.

Another thing is that you shouldn’t think that just because you’re following what I’ve said in the other columns that you will catch a giant or that every bite you get will be a big fish. We can all tell stories about the time a 4-inch bass attacked, and got hooked on, our Zara Spook. Fish are funny creatures. Sometimes they do funny things. Don’t be surprised if some of your bass are about the same size as your lure.

Trophy bass fishing isn’t for everyone. It’s hard work. Like most things that require hard work, however, it’s worth it in the end.