Do what works for you

This 2017 season was tough on me. I finished 49th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. The reason is simple: I didn’t fish to my strengths. I’ve spent a lot of windshield time thinking about that and how it happened. We’ll talk some more about that soon.

In the meantime I’m going to offer my thoughts on how we can all end up as better anglers. Some of what I have to say may not be all that popular, but I promise you it’ll be true. You see, the sport of bass fishing isn’t as complicated as some would have you believe. 

The first step in getting better is to spend some time thinking about our past fishing experiences. We need to look closely at our performance over the past two or three years. When we do that we need to break those experiences into two groups. The first group will be for those times when we caught good numbers of bass. The second group will be for those times when we didn’t. 

Pitch the second group. You don’t need it. Concentrate on the successful outings and analyze each day by water depth and cover, and then by lure selection. 

When you were successful was it in shallow water, deep water, around vegetation or somewhere else? What type of lure did you use? Was it a crankbait, a topwater plug, a plastic creature bait, a worm, a jerkbait or something else? I guarantee you’ll discover that most of the time you were successful it was in the same general type of water and with the same general type of lure.

Once you’ve done that you’ll know where your strengths are and how you should approach the future. If you caught most of your bass in shallow water with a small crankbait, why would you order a ton of new plastics along with a bag of 1-ounce sinkers? You should be looking into crankbaits and what you need to complete your arsenal.

There’s nothing wrong with going with what you know and with what works for you. Everyone in any competitive activity does some things better than others. Anglers are no different. Fishing to your strengths is nothing to be ashamed of or to hide from your friends. In fact, it’s smart. It’s the most reliable way to catch a bass.

Lots of us have different strengths. That’s not a problem. On any given day bass can be caught on all kinds of different lures. The Bassmaster Elite Series proves that. You don’t hear every angler talking about the same lure. In most cases they’re all different, but they all caught bass.  

Follow the same process if your goal is to catch bigger bass. Break down your successful days by big fish caught rather than numbers.

Nothing I’ve said should discourage anyone from learning new techniques and expanding their fishing skills. If you want to learn something new by all means do it, but do it with a conscious effort to learn and to get better. Don’t do it because somebody else told you that you could catch fish that way or because a pro made a video about it. 

Bass fishing is about catching bass, and the most efficient way to do that is to fish to your strengths.