It’s the eve of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lake Norman, and preparation for this one involves more than just packing the right gear and the correct arsenal of rods. Fishing Norman in May from the back of the boat involves some mental preparation as well. Of course, I won’t know who my opening day pro will be until the night before the tournament begins, but odds are dock fishing will be on the agenda.
Lake Norman is chock full of docks of all sorts, and with the morning shad spawn likely in play and bass moving in and out of these floating hotels, it only stands to reason the dock bite will be a major factor. This requires a totally different mindset for the co-angler. On a place like Kissimmee, host of Eastern Open #1, much of the time is spent among the vast reed fields, and untapped targets are available 360 degrees around the boat.
But when dock fishing, the co-angler is often put in tough positions, with primary spots already picked through, and in some cases, scrambling to get a cast or two in as the pro scoots to the next dock. So the first thing to pack away is your ego, and accept the fact that you may not get as many prime casts in as you like. Prepare yourself mentally to embrace this challenge. Don’t begin complaining about getting “back boated” on your way to the ramp.
Have an understanding of what’s going on and be mentally prepared. Having fished these types of events from both ends of the boat, I can assure you, it’s tougher than you think to keep your co-angler in position to hit a few good spots. Plus, this isn’t a team tournament, he’s not your partner up there. Don’t expect to be invited to the front deck with the intention that any fish in the boat is a good fish. And although you are not competing against him in the tournament, you are competing for those fish around those docks.
So yes, think shaky heads and wacky rigs, and maybe some faster moving baits that can be snuck in as the pro punches the trolling motor. But more importantly, have your mind right going in. Understand what the day may be like for you. You can’t be frustrated if you know what you are getting into. And guess what, the rest of the co-angler field is dealing with the same issues. So while those guys are standing on the back deck, rod in hand, steaming and pouting about not getting good looks, you are planning and scheming what you are going to do with that next cast.
Mindset - it’s critical in stick and ball sports, and it’s just as critical on the water. And if your pro has located an off shore spot that’s wide open…God bless you. Otherwise, enjoy the challenge.