(As posted on BassEast.com) There is no substitute for time on the water, the more time you spend catching bass the better you will get at it. That’s a fact we should all agree on, but what about when you spend a couple days figuring the perfect pattern to only show up on tournament day and find your fish have vanished?
That’s when time on the water and making good decisions come into play. The most common mistake I see fishermen make on the water is not being able to change, we have heard it said and said it ourselves “ I smoked’em yesterday.” It’s very important to look at every day as a new one and not get stuck in the past, I always pay attention to the weather, it’s the biggest factor that can affect the way fish bite. Has the water level changed? Is there current? How about the water color? These are just a few factors that can turn a great practice into a bad tournament in a hurry.
Pay close attention to the small details “be thorough and precise” If you had been catching them flipping bushes in the back of pockets with no wind and bright sun that turns into overcast with a stiff breeze chances are the fish are going to change. The decisions you make now may just seal your fate. Small details like the wind blowing on a secondary point that just happens, to have a Blue Herron camped out is a clue you need to take. Understanding the fish are still in the area and are still going to bite is a big factor in making the right decision. “Don’t over think it just think”.
Fishing your “gut” instinct can also help in your decision making. Most often times that “gut” feeling or instinct is right, and you need to make the decision to trust it. I remember one time I was fishing a tournament on Kentucky Lake, I had looked at this spot near the ramp a couple of times and just never stopped to fish it. On the way back to check-in at the end of he first day of competition I had about 14 lbs. in the boat. My “Gut’ told me to stop at that spot and make a few cast. Sure enough the fish were there, and I caught them, I culled up to a little over 16 lbs. I started there the next morning and ended the day with another 16 plus pounds, enough to make the cut for day three. Even though I had never thrown a lure on that spot I let my instincts help make the decision, and it paid off.
The ability to make decisions on the water will make the difference between good anglers and bad. I always approach a tournament the same way, I have a good idea of the area where they are. How I plan on catching them but i am willing to change based on the conditions at that moment. If you keep an open mind, be willing to change and trust your decisions you will catch more bass and ultimately become a better fisherman.
By Jacob Powroznik