Bass anglers have a way of over-complicating fishing; sometimes we need to keep bass fishing simple. Life was simpler with a Zebco 33, a bobber, and a box of worms. The only decisions I had to make were where to put the float, how big a piece of worm to thread on the hook, and where to cast. My tackle box consisted of hooks, weights, and floats of various sizes. The Zebco 33 was (is) a tried and trusted tool. Push the button, fling it, and away the float-bait combo would go. Reel it in when I saw the float go under. Man, I miss those days.
When I go to the bait trays in my boat nowadays it’s a very different story. If I’m throwing a crankbait, I have to consider size, color, bill shape, and running depth. The crankbait I select drives which rod I use. There are even more options to consider– fast or slow retrieve, line type and diameter, rod strength and flex. It gets even more complicated with soft plastics: worm or creature bait, small or large profile, buoyant or sinking, bulky or finesse, long or short, and somewhere along the way a color is picked. I’ll go an entire day without a bite and complain of “throwing everything in the boat at them” when the truth is I’ve probably used 10% of what I had on board (if that much).
The Major League Fishing (MLF) series has been a bit of an eye-opener for me with respect to tackle options and decision-making. I was intrigued by how the pros could dissect a new body of water and come up with a plan which actually worked in only fifteen minutes. I was also intrigued by how inept some of the pros appeared. Nothing they did was right. How is it one angler rocks the lake while the others sort through the 300 pounds of tackle crammed into their boats looking for the magic bait? “I brought the kitchen sink for this one,” one pro said before an event last year. He ended up fishing the same lure all day and whacked ’em. How does this happen?
Keep Bass Fishing Simple – Trust Your Gut, Fish Your Strengths
As I’ve watched the MLF seasons come and go a handful of things stand out. First off, it’s clear the pros rely heavily on their experience on similar lakes or rivers and firsthand knowledge of the local area. A database of fishing knowledge, whether mental or kept in a journal of some kind, is driving them to pick areas which look and feel like something where they’ve previously had success. Secondly, their set of lure options are fairly narrow for the most part. There is short list of baits tending to catch numbers of fish and an occasional big one. Finally, they’re staying with what they feel confident with.
The post-event interviews are telling. With few exceptions, those who won or placed above the cut line said they picked structure and/or cover they liked to fish and used a bait they trusted. To paraphrase an angler interview, “I had a lure in my hand that I knew everything about, and I was fishing water I felt extremely comfortable on. All I had to focus on was where to put it and executing when I got bit.” By picking familiar water and keeping his bait selection and presentation simple, this pro was able to concentrate all of his energy on the fish. Trust in his water and bait selections allowed him to fish with confidence. Focused, confident, simple.
For the record, most of us will remain tackle hounds. We’ll always have way more than we need. When it gets tough or we’re fishing new water, sometimes we need to think less about how much we have and more on what we know and trust. Limiting our options to those things we have confidence in, puts us in the optimum state of mind to succeed. Keeping it simple enables (empowers) us to focus all of our energy on doing the one thing we live for – setting the hook.