Are you a nerd? Growing up we all tried to avoid that label, but I’ve come to realize that people we called nerds back in high school more often than not succeeded in their field of choice. If you look up the definition of nerd you will find many different meanings, but one that caught my attention was “boringly studious.” Now before I lose your attention let me explain why I think being a “fishing nerd” would be a good thing as a high school angler.
In all levels of fishing you have to find a competitive edge that will help you excel above the next angler. Becoming a “fishing nerd” or “student of the game” is a great way to gain that edge. Fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, I have been blessed to encounter some of the greatest bass fisherman to walk this planet. Aaron Martens being one of them, once said to me, “You’ve got to love to fish.” That sounds simple and of course we all love to fish or you wouldn’t be reading this. What he was saying was that you have to love it so much that you are the last one off the water for practice, the first one to the ramp in the morning and the last one in bed at night after tying on lures. You have to love this game more than the next angler if you want to beat the next angler.
We all love to go out on the water and actually fish, that’s the fun part, but it’s the not-so-fun part that makes the difference come weigh-in. Doing your homework is key. As young anglers, myself included, we have a lot more information available to us than what anglers did back in the day. Use it to your full advantage. For your next tournament study maps like they are going out of style. It’s still hard to beat a paper map for pre-tournament study. Then look at different online aerial maps that maybe were taken at different times of the year. One may show the lake full level and one may show it at low winter pool. Use them together to learn how the lake lays out.
Search on YouTube for videos of other fisherman on that particular body of water. You can learn a lot about how the water and lake will actually look by watching it through a video. Sometimes certain lakes have a niche technique that only works in that part of the world. If you don’t already know it then you need to learn how to use it. Watching a video is a great way to get your mind around it. There are lots of great videos here on the Bassmaster site.
Another great tool to understanding the identity of a body of water is studying tournament results. Use a search engine online and find as many tournament results as you can. Try to find them around the time you will be fishing as this will be the best indicator of how it will fish when you arrive.
A “fishing nerd” should keep a journal. I myself could do better in this area, but keeping records of what fish were doing in certain situations may help you down the road. I never like to rely on history, but there are times that remembering something from the past cut a few corners for me and I was able to find fish faster.
Know every detail of your equipment, whether it be your boat or your rods and reels. Know as much about them as you can. It’s always good to know your equipment so that you can repair it yourself. Sure if it’s a big malfunction you are going to have to take that boat to a dealership, but there is no reason a capable angler cannot replace a broken trolling motor handle cord to save themselves time on the water. I honestly feel like building my own rods with supplies from Mud Hole Custom Tackle helps me a great deal as an angler. Not just because I can have things the way I want them, but I now know and better understand how rods work and I can repair them myself. There is something to be said for saturating yourself in the field you love. Building rods helps me do that. The understanding I have of my equipment helps me catch more fish and saves me time in the long run.
With all that being said, if you truly want to be the best at this game learn to love it and become a student of it.