When I finally took up bass fishing, I sure didn’t know much. Still, it was relaxing to get outside after a tough week in the truck (I worked for a welding supply company), a week of driving and listening to everybody at work tell me how to do my job was wearying, to say the least. I digress. I started in a borrowed canoe, then graduated to a Sea Eagle inflatable, from there to a 10-foot Jon boat with a two-horse, air-cooled, Johnson outboard. With the Jon boat, I started to get serious about bass fishing, it was for pleasure, but part of the pleasure was catching bass.
I started reading about fishing in general and particularly bass fishing, the same with tv shows. I’m an In-Fisherman alum. I would see a technique and then worry it to death, practice it until I could do it with a modicum of success, then I would start on another technique or bait.
When I sold my Jon boat and bought my 14-footer with a Merc 15 horse, I was in happy times. With my 25 or so foot-pound trolling motor, I could control my boat better than the early Jon boat. I had an old Eagle sonar. I was catching more bass, the occasional big bass, and learning more techniques. One day, out on my home waters, I ran across a guy, and after chatting, we got together to learn my home water. He was fishing tournaments and didn’t know the place; I would fish the Big Fish Derby for the fish and game club each year and was in the top 3 for most of them, so I had some creds. Yet, I still had a long way to go to become a good bass angler, or at least what I considered competitive.
I joined the ABA, American Bass Anglers, the same group as my friend, and fished non-boater with some success. After two years, I bought an 86′ Tracker, 16-foot Pro Bass, with a 35 hp Mercury. I held my own in ABA, usually in the top five, quite a few times in the money. Getting to this point wasn’t easy; I never intended to be a tournament bass fisherman, and I still had a lot to learn to make it to the next stage.
My friend, Jim, and his wife won the 1998 Crappie thon National Championship. He was invited to a Bass Pro Shops Legends Tournament and drew Shaw Grigsby. Jim won his division and took lunker, which means he won two boats; he traded them for a larger bass boat. I learned a fair amount about jig fishing from Jim and his bass boat.
It was at this time I learned dropshotting. To me, it is a tedious, dull way to fish; however, it will put bass in the boat. It took a year to get comfortable dropshotting, roughly the same with most techniques I learned. Likewise, it took most of a year to learn how to cast deep diving cranks, primarily because of the reels I use, old Quantum Iron IR3s; they have no adjust except for the spool tension knob on the side. They do have two internal non-adjustable brakes; however, this made it difficult in the beginning.
The upshot of all this is not to brag; I would never be crazy enough to lay down money in a bet against any number of guys on Ultimatebass.com. Instead, I’m trying to say that for an angler wanting to improve their bass fishing skills, it takes perseverance, a willingness to work at one thing at a time until there is a decent understanding of what it takes to catch bass with said technique consistently. For me, this is as much a part of my enjoyment as being out there, yes, I do like looking and being a part of the natural world, but I like to take my game up to a higher level and to have the confidence I can catch fish when I want to.
Don’t be afraid to fail; it’s all part of the learning; it’s only failure if you don’t try to learn from it. So it is figuring out bass; figuring out where, why, and how can be very satisfying in its own right.
See you on the water,