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" Give Yourself a Chance"

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Give Yourself a Chance

The fishing industry is full of information for anglers. We read our favorite web sites, magazines, and publications about our favorite fishing pros and the techniques that they use to produce winning weights of bass. Most of us are interested in the equipment, lures, and methods in which they were used. We try to increase our knowledge base at catching bass so that we to can increase our catch rates along with our bank accounts with winnings from tournaments that some of us enter. Personally, I have read a lot about bass fishing over the past 19 years. More than likely, you have too. In one article that I read years ago, Gary Klein made the statement that you have to ?give yourself a chance? if you are going to win a tournament. His point in the article was to use a bait that the fish will bite with the current conditions, not the bait that we want them to bite. I thought about that statement over a period of time. The more that I thought about it, the more that I realized that the statement applies to more things than just choosing the proper bait. What I am going to share with you are some of the realizations that I applied this principle to. It has greatly increased my skill as a fisherman as well as making my time fishing much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

1. I am not a professional fisherman: For the longest time I compared the results that I would achieve on the water with the results that professional fishermen produce. I really use to beat myself up mentally when all of my time, preparation, and hard work would produce either marginal or no results at all. After years of doing this, I realized that I do this for a hobby, not a living. I do not spend a very large amount of my time on the water like a pro does. I have learned most of my fishing knowledge by experience. I do not have a fishing partner. I rarely speak to other fishermen on what they are doing. For me, the satisfaction comes from figuring it out by myself. Even though I work hard and prepare myself and my equipment the best that I can, I am still not as proficient as a professional. Accept what you and your skill sets are. Add that to the time that you spent on the water and judge your success accordingly.

2. Fish your strengths: For those of you that fish competition, you have come to learn that casting for cash is a game of odds. Your best method for beating the odds is to fish your strengths. For years I carried around a massive amount of tackle for all kinds of conditions when I fished competition. I was constantly afraid that I would not have something that I needed for the conditions that I might face. But one day I noticed that there were certain baits that I depended on the majority of the time. When I thought about it, I realized that 95% of the fish that I catch come from using those baits. So I went through my box and thinned out a tremendous amount of tackle. Some of it was real painful to take out. I had carried those baits with me throughout the years. But they went. I could not believe how much lighter my box was. Everything else went into a zippered duffle bag that I took along with me in the truck when I competed out of town. That way I had it if I really needed it. Fishing your strengths will not always work, but you will perform and execute much more efficiently if you do what you do best.

3. Pick your battles: Most of us have a certain time of the year that we look forward to. It is a time of the year that we excel as fishermen. For some it is the spawn, for others it may be the fall. But one thing for sure is that we can find the fish and put them in the boat. It is that time of year that you need to put your entry fee money down. The majority of us are working class people. Entry fees are getting more and more expensive. Add the cost of gas for the tow vehicle, boat, hotel, and meals and you are talking about a lot of money. If you are going to throw your hard earned cash into the ring, then do it when you are at your best. If you are a large mouth fisherman, then do not enter tournaments where the overall population of bass are spots. If you are a deep structure fisherman, then don?t enter tournaments on shallow lakes during the spawn. We all like to think of ourselves as versatile fishermen. But the only time that I will go to something other than my strength techniques, is when there is no other option. Choosing what tournaments or lakes to fish is a variable that I can control.

4. Buy the best equipment that you can afford: I am not talking about running out and buying 10 of the most expensive rods and reels that you can find. I am talking about buying the best equipment that you can buy for your most preferred technique. For example, I am a crankbait fisherman. I throw crankbaits 95% of the time regardless of the time of the year. I have two rods and reels that I use for that technique. I have one 7 ft. rod for large crankbaits and one 6?6? rod for medium to small crankbaits. The rods are different brands but I use the same model of reel for both rods. They are very light, fit me and my hands very well, and I am extremely accurate with them. I don?t have to think about my equipment when I am throwing my crankbaits. This frees my mind to concentrate on finding the fish. I have nice rods for other techniques, but they are not the quality of my crankbait rods and reels. They do not need to be. I don?t use them that much.

Maybe what I have to say here is not for you. But adopting these techniques has really helped my productivity. If you are having problems with deciding what to throw or what tournament or lake to fish, or if you are constantly beating yourself up mentally for your performance on the water, then give these suggestions a try.


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Very good reading Skeet and a lot to ponder and think about.

I used to take so much tackle with me, I needed and extra boat

in tow just to haul it.

I fished with a guy onetime that had 17 rigged rods on the deck.

When it got dark, he put those 17 up and got out 17 more, rigged

for what he called night fishing. I did just as well with my two after

dark. A spinnerbait and a hair jig.

Since I started making cranks, that's about all I fish anymore.



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I always enjoy your articles. You brought back memories, some good and some not so good. Back when I used to fish a great deal more than I do now and fishing tournaments, the hardest thing to do for me was to relax and have a good time when I was just out fishing for fun. Every time I went fishing, it was a tournament mentality. For the most part I have learned to settle down and remind myself I am not in a tourney. I now enjoy Big Bass fishing even though those days are far and few between but I fish where I know big fish have came from and if I only catch one fish and he is over 5 pounds I now consider that a good outing. On the flip side of fishing for big bass, there are a bunch of days that I zero. 8O Thanks for the article


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I guess all of us that are serious about our sport go through the same things. I always felt that I had to prove how good I was to others as well as myself. When I did not perform well I was so hard on myself. I would beat myself up for days. A little of that is good. But too much can destroy a good life time of fishing. For me, I had to learn to control myself mentally. It is something that I had to practice. I still have those days that I beat myself up when things do not go well. But they happen allot less than they use to. Fishing for large fish is a very tough thing to do. Especially in the types of lakes that you and I fish. It is a discipline. It is really great when everything that you plan comes together and you find those fish on a rock pile 100 yds. off of the bank. You are not alone my friend. I have had many days of the big ZERO. But I have learned allot by sticking with it. On the other hand, I have brought in some pretty heavy sacks to the scales on tournament day. When others asked me how I did it, I just replied..."Hard Work". Which is just what it is.


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Right on Skeeter.

Though we don't have tourneys here but I can relate to being "a wanna get the most fish of them all". As years past , stocking up on equipment & countless lures.... I settle on just 2 rods, one even double duty for cranks, jig & worm. Fishing and making my own lures have made me see the futility of having tons of fishing gears on the water. You spend too much time changing & trying to make up ur mind; instead of concentrating on getting the "correct" lure to work right.

Now I just enjoy fishing, be it one fish or tons of them; I don't have to prove myself. I just cast out my own lure & enjoy it, playing with lures, sometimes I even crimp all the hooks shut since I only want to know how effective the lure is on enticing a strike LOL ;)

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Many of my rods do double duty too LaPala. I use to spend allot of time tying on new lures also. It just got rediculous. The pros have 3 or more days to practice for a tournament. We only have that one day a week or less to get out there and find them. That is a very hard task. Allot of the pros don't even figure out the fish untill the 3rd day of a 3 day tournament. :idea: Cutting down on the amount of tackle that we carry just makes the lure selection much more simple. I am glad that you can enjoy a day of fishing. Having that time to ourselves is priceless. In a world where everyone wants to "stay in touch" it is great to enjoy some time to yourself.


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Excellent article and you have excellent writing skills as well.

I found myself nodding my head a number of times as I read.

I think that fishing, and hunting for that matter, is something that none of us should take all that seriously for fear that we'll "ruin" it. As you mentioned, unless you actually fish for a paycheck, it is probably more important to enjoy the entire experience than to carry a yardstick with which to "measure your success."

I am new to this website. A large part of the reason I am here, is that like others, I have found that my fascination for the tackle itself is one of reasons I enjoy the sport as a diversion and hobby. For now at least, I hope that I can remember to build what pleases me and not use the opinions of others or even the fish themselves as a 'yardstick' to measure my success.

The bottom line: If you are doing something that relates to fishing or even actually fishing and you are having a good time...you are doing it right.

Great topic, Skeeter.

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