Watch and Learn

I finished the PAA coverage a few days ago, and now I'm working with the media for one of my sponsors, Strike King. (I'll talk more about that in another blog.) The PAA Corporate Cup on Pickwick Lake was an eye opening experience. I said last week we'd go over some of it this week, so here goes.

My job was to do TV coverage of the tournament from an expert's point of view, expert analysis is what they call it. They wanted me to analyze patterns and fishing trends so that our viewers had a better understanding of the tournament in real time as it unfolded.

That let me take a critical look at how some of the guys were fishing and what they were doing. It also gave me a chance to think about what I might do under the same or similar circumstances. The lessons learned are important. They reinforce what I've said many times in the past – be prepared for change and protect yourself against it whenever possible.

The top 10 teams were on three different patterns and three types of water. One group was fishing the area below the dam, several others found a shallow water pattern and a few more were working open water ledges and drops.

The guys who were below the dam were catching bass based mostly on current flow. That was controlled by the release of water. When the current was strong the bass were schooling and could be caught. But when the water flow slacked off the bite got tough.

The second group was fishing a shallow water pattern off creek mouths, grass points, small cuts and other feeding areas. That bite was very current and weather oriented. When there was water movement and some wind, the bite was hot. When the current stopped or the water slicked over, it dropped to almost nothing.

The third bunch was fishing deep ledges. They were throwing everything they had — deep crankbaits, spoons, football jigs, whatever. Their bite wasn't as spectacular as the other guys. It wasn't current or weather controlled, either.

It should come as no surprise that the deep ledge guys ended up winning the event. There's a reason for that. In a multiday tournament you have to have enough fish to last three or four days and enough fish to carry you through changes. Anything less than that and you'll get beat.

The deep bass weren't affected by current or weather. Therefore the anglers fishing them had a more consistent bite. When they stopped pulling water or the wind calmed down, those anglers just kept catching bass.

To be fair, it was a close finish. If the current has stayed strong — maybe for only another hour or so — or if the weather had cooperated, the result might very well have been different.

My remarks are not meant to be critical. We're all at the mercy of things we can't control. We all try to make the best of what we have available to us. That's the nature of our sport and a part of it that will never change. The other guys may not have won, but they did finish at the top of the field, a field of the best bass anglers alive. That's no small thing.

Still, there's a lesson to be learned here. It's something I've talked about in other blogs. Pay attention to what going on around you and try to control as many things as possible. You can't control water pulling schedules, and you can't control the weather. You can, however, control how much control those things have over you.

By selecting the right pattern(s) or spot(s) you can lessen the impact that other things will have over your day — things you can't control. Anticipate change and prepare for it by finding patterns or spots that protect you from change. Ask yourself, "What will I do if tomorrow isn't like today?"