Oneida was awesome

I just fished the best tournament I’ve had in a long time. It was one of those events where everything went my way. It’s not often you’ll hear me say that unless I had a win. But I didn’t win this one. I finished sixth. Nevertheless, it was awesome. We’re going to talk about it for three or four weeks because there are several things we can all learn from it.

First thing, let me remind you of what we talked about two weeks ago in Green goes with brown. I said that when you’re fishing a lake or river with both largemouth and smallmouth in it, you should be careful about concentrating too much on the smallies. They can be fickle and get you in trouble over the course of a three or four day event.

That’s exactly what happened on Oneida. In the back of my mind I was thinking this would be a smallmouth tournament. I’ve been there before and that’s what I expected. When practice started, however, I couldn’t find the bigger schools of better fish that I knew I’d need to win. I was discouraged when I came in Monday evening.

But then I saw my friend Ish Monroe. We travel together and sometimes exchange general information about what’s going on out there. We talked. He knew I was struggling. Ish told me to look shallow and think green. He thought that’s where the tournament would be won. (It turned out he was right. He won doing exactly that.)

When I went out Tuesday, I stayed with my smallmouth thinking until about Noon. It wasn’t happening for me so I decided to try what Ish suggested. I tied on a Snag Proof Phat Frog and started working the shoreline. I didn’t get very many bites but the ones I did get were quality ones so I stayed with it.

By Wednesday I was beginning to develop a pattern and some confidence. That’s no small thing for me and a frog. I know how to fish one but I’m by no means an expert, and it wasn’t one of my confidence baits, at least not at the time. That’s why this tournament is such a big deal to me.

I’ve finally developed a new technique. I say finally because at this stage of my career I simply don’t have the time it takes to learn a new technique and get good enough at it to believe in myself when I’m using it. I did it this week, though. And now I’m ready to reach for a frog when the fish are shallow and the going gets tough.

We’re out of space for this week. Next week, we’ll start talking about how to spot a frog pattern, develop it to its fullest potential, select tackle and customize a Phat Frog. Depending upon where you live, that information should help you catch bass for at least a couple of months.

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