Let’s talk fishing … after the tournament

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Steve Bowman

B.A.S.S. recently beefed up its rules regarding Bassmaster Elite Series competition and how and when competitors can get outside information before an event. Essentially, it extends the “no outside information” rule to the moment the schedule is announced rather than sometime much closer to the tournament date.

I like the rule, and I think most of the other anglers in the field like it, too. It requires us to take greater responsibility for finding our own fish, and it reduces the chances that an angler can excel simply by fishing where someone else told him to fish.

Believe it or not, I think the rule is going to help a lot of people. It’s going to force them to rely on their own abilities and instincts. It’s going to help them grow their confidence. It’s even going to make them better fishermen.

Most of the consistently successful pros in the Elite Series follow the rule already because it’s how they’ve always prepared for the season. They didn’t and don’t use the kind of outside information that’s now prohibited because it’s not helpful to them. They know they’ll perform better by doing all the preparation on their own — not relying on someone else’s work and experience.

I can tell you that the new rule isn’t going to change anything about the way I prepare. It simply put into effect a policy I already use after two decades on the trail. 

I’m a firm believer that you don’t win with someone else’s fish. That kind of approach might get you a check once in a while, but it very rarely produces a win.

Part of the reason for that is very practical. If someone else found the fish and told you about them, it means they’ve already been exploited to some degree. How do you know you’ll have those fish to yourself? Those are probably not the kind of fish you can depend on for a big tournament catch.

I’ve won 11 B.A.S.S. events, and every victory came on fish I found myself — fish that were never exploited before I found them. That was critical.

Another reason I don’t like fishing for someone else’s fish is that kind of information only tells me where the fish were — not where they are or where they’re going to be when competition starts. The last thing I want is to be fishing where they were. That location or pattern is doomed before you make the first cast.

The best tournament situation is when you’re catching bass that just got to that spot … and you can’t get that from another angler. You have to do that yourself.

The tricky thing about the newly-expanded “no-info” rule was the inspiration for my title — “Let’s talk fishing … after the tournament.”

You see, an Elite pro can get himself into trouble just by having a casual conversation with a fan at a boat show, a tackle shop or at the boat ramp. Maybe the fan wants to show off a big bass his son or daughter caught and he pulls up the photo on his phone. 

There it is, for the pro to see: a 7-pounder with a chartreuse jerkbait hanging from its mouth.

It seems harmless enough, but it could be construed as a violation of the no-info rule. And it doesn’t matter if the pro already had 10 rods on his deck, all rigged with chartreuse jerkbaits. 

I don’t even want people to tell me “The lake is on fire!” or “It’s been really tough out there.” Anything involving information about the water or the fish could be a problem.

So, if our paths cross and you want to talk fishing, just know that I can’t talk about tournament waters before the event. I’m happy to talk about sports, family, the weather or pecans. I just can’t talk about tournament waters.

I wonder if I could capitalize on the new rule. I’m betting that the other pros are concerned about this, too. Maybe I should make some “Edwin Evers Elite Earplugs” (that’s E4 for short) that they can wear at boat shows, in tackle shops and when standing around the ramp.

That should keep us out of trouble and with an MSRP of just $99.99, I could make a little gas money.

Just kidding.

If you haven’t tried Edwin Evers Pecans yet, we’ve got some Christmas and holiday specials you might like.

Our E2 Christmas packages comes in a couple of versions. The first includes two 8-ounce packages of pecans and a Bass Pro Shops/General Tire cap, just like I wear in tournaments. The other has the cap, a T-shirt and a 1-pound tin of pecans of various flavors. We also offer 1- and 2-pound gift tins. Our pecans come in 11 different flavors. One of them is sure to be your all-time favorite.

Merry Christmas!