Reaching Your Goals
By Bill Wilcox
Your tournament season is getting into full swing right now. If you haven't had your first event, you soon will. When was the last time you won one? I know everyone can't win every year. But, be honest with yourself, has it been one year, two years, five years or more. If it has, then you know you're doing something wrong with some aspect of your tournament preparation. You'll need to look at all phases, such as pre-fishing, practice days, locations, techniques, and your actual tournament.
You'll first need to evaluate your goals for this upcoming season. All successful tournament anglers start with a goal, of course everyone is different and your goal will be different. Is your goal to win one event this year, or even more than one? Be realistic with your goals, no one wins them all. Or is your goal just to make it to the championship?
If you're not in your first few years of tournament fishing, then one of your goals should be to win one. Pick a lake that you have confidence in, every lake will have its own personality. Everyone has their own favorite lake. Pick that lake to put most of your effort into. The lakes that you might be weaker on, set a different goal other than winning. On theses lakes you might go for a limit or try for a descent finish. Try to learn the lake better, find new areas that might be productive.
We all go through slumps, but a streak lacking wins over a couple seasons will tell you that you need to overhaul your thinking. The first thing to look at is your partner. They might be your best friends, but your fishing styles might be totally different from each other. Are you strong in the spring, and weak in the summer? Then find a partner that's good in the summer. Does your job prohibit you and your partner from pre-fishing as much as you should? So many teams spend several days and even weeks pre-fishing. If you can't put in your own time, you're handicapped. A good way around this is to get a partner that has more free time and maybe help pay their expenses for pre-fishing.
Let's say you have plenty of practice time, a great partner and you still haven't had a win. Then lets face it it's got to be your fishing. In my own fishing if things don't seem to be going the way that I feel they should, I always go back to the basics. For me that's power fishing, covering lots of water throwing a spinnerbait or crankbait. None of the drop-shotting or hole setting techniques that you always read about. I usually win on a spot when I hole-sit, or have a really strong pattern that I can rely on. But if one of these go south on me, I'm lucky if I don't zero. Your odds just naturally increase if you can avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
Sometimes it will be better if you keep your goals simple. Maybe your best goal will be one bass at a time. Just you and the fish, don't worry about other anglers, the conditions, or other things you can't control anyway. Just concentrate on your next fish and nothing else. You'll be surprised sometimes approaching your tournament in this manner at how well you'll have done at the end of the day.
The last goal of the year is always the hardest, the championship. You've made it and now you'll want to win it. How do you go about it? In last years Honey Hole Championship, A. R. and Jimmy Johnson found a way to win on Sam Rayburn (Texas). They'll be easy to spot in two ways, one is they're fishing this year out of a new Legend bass boat, and the other Jimmy's dog Jesse, a minute dachshund, will always be with him.
Let's look at how they won and maybe you can apply it to your own tournament. They pre-fished on Rayburn the two weekends prior to the actual tournament. What they discovered was that by concentrating on isolated grass patches they could catch some good quality bass. The only way they could find these areas was with their electronics. The best grass was about six to nine feet deep. The lower end of the lake in Farmers Flat, Buck Bay and Needmore produced most of their winning weight. They had their limit the first day in the first 30 minutes on 1/2-ounce Joe Baby smoke green flake spinnerbaits. They said two key things they picked up on that was the key to their win. The first was when the lake started to generate everyday about 11:00 a.m. They could count on catching bigger bass on the down current side of the grass. The second and most important thing was that the bigger bass wanted a red-bug wacky worm on 12-pound fluorocarbon line. The first day they weighed in 18-pounds plus, with a 6.80-pound kicker, and on the second day they only had 3 fish but with a big bass of 9.17 and a total weight of 16 pounds. The other factor that helped their win was fishing the non-visible deep grass.
Hopefully, some of these techniques and ideas will help you reach some of your goals.
Good luck and God Bless.
Bill Wilcox is sponsored by Ranger Boats, Yamaha Outboards, MCMC, BG Products, Pro Rule, Johnson Fiberglass, Brown's Automotive, Continental Batteries, Kistler Rods, Swamp Hog Lures, Strike King Lures, and Fun-n-Sun Sports Center.