My last couple of tournaments have been pretty good. I finished seventh at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett and earned a fifth place finish at the 2017 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #2 on Lake Chickamauga. That gave me a good feeling after a mediocre start.
I want to share the reason for my turnaround.
After a review of everything I was doing I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t finishing my casts. What I mean is that I was getting in a hurry thinking about what I was going to do next instead of working my bait where it was at the time.
I’d make a cast and then, before I finished with it, I’d start winding my lure in so that I could make the next cast to a good looking spot. Why would I do that? I really don’t know, but I do know that it didn’t make sense. If I didn’t think a bass was there, why did I throw there in the first place? I try not to make a habit of making worthless casts, but that was exactly what I was doing — not by where I was fishing but by how I was fishing.
So I started making a conscious effort to finish my cast and to not think about my next cast until my lure was hanging off the end of my rod tip. It made a big difference. I stopped missing fish, and I cut the number that came unbuttoned way down.
In truth, I can’t take all the credit for coming up with this idea. Two things pushed me along. One was when I saw an angler — an Elite Series guy — winding his frog in from a grass bed while looking around for another hole to throw into. That was fine except that he didn’t see the bass that was chasing his frog all the way back to the boat.
The second thing is my admiration for Aaron Martens. He makes less casts than almost anyone, but he catches more bass than almost anyone. What he does is make sure everything is perfect before he ever makes a cast. Watch him. He checks his line, his knot, his hook and his lure. Only when all is in order does he let it fly.
And then, watch him work his bait. You can tell he isn’t thinking about anything but getting a bite. He focuses like a laser. The next cast will take care of itself. Maybe most important of all, he doesn’t hope he’ll catch one or think he’ll catch one. He doesn’t even believe he’ll catch one. He knows he’ll catch one. As a result, he doesn’t hurry. He fishes.
If you’re not fishing the way you think you should be fishing, I suggest you finish the cast you have before you start thinking about the one you don’t have. It’s really helped me.
I do want to offer one caveat before I leave, however. I’m not saying you shouldn’t move to try to find the fish you need in a tournament setting. That’s a totally different thing.