Master Series Lesson 10 with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Aaron Martens: Hard Lessons Learned

This one could have been titled "Hard Lessons Learned." I made a bad mistake at this year's Bassmaster Classic. But, like many of life's lessons, it'll help me in the future, or at least I hope so. (I try to look at everything from a positive perspective. It's hard sometimes, but it's the right thing to do.)

I got a new boat just before it started. Naturally, I had to rig it, break it in, learn how to use everything and repack my tackle. Well, if you haven't heard already, I left one of my boxes out, and it was one I ended up needing.

The short version of the story is that I was catching them pretty good on the first day with a spinnerbait. On the second day, however, they started slapping it. I knew I needed to switch to a shallow square-bill or a lipless crankbait to get them to bite good.

When I looked for my box with those baits, I couldn't find it. I'd left it in the truck. I caught less than 13 pounds all day. On the last day, when I had the baits I needed, I caught over 24 pounds. That's about twice as much. It made a really big difference. I wish I'd have had them on Saturday.

What really hurts about this is that I'm really organized. It's my thing. I pride myself on having everything I need at my finger tips. I don't like to make dumb mistakes like that. So much for that theory, huh?

The lesson is that no matter how careful you are, or how much time you put into your tackle, you can make a mistake and leave something you'll need behind. From now on, I'll check everything at least three times. I used to check it twice, but I don't think that's enough anymore. The Classic proved that. Three times is better.

For those of you with less tackle than I carry, I think you should use a checklist. Create a file on your computer that you can print out for every tournament. Then check things off as you put them into the boat. That might be a pain, but it'll help you avoid mistakes like I made. When you're done, you'll know you have everything.

You can make it almost anyway you want. Start with plastics and then go to hard baits. Organize everything by running depth. Or, you could just do it using the baits you'll think you'll need. Be careful about that, though. You never know when conditions might change and you'll need something that you didn't think you'd need. Try to carry a little of everything just to be sure.

I'd use a checklist except that I have so much stuff the checklist would create more problems than it would solve. But, for most recreational anglers, it's definitely the way to go. There's no reason to fish a tournament or ruin a day on the water because you don't have what you need in the boat. Make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Next time we'll talk about my new storage system. I have everything organized with boxes inside of boxes so I don't have to make as many moves to get what I want. It's more efficient.

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