Extreme Bass Fishing
By Bill Wilcox
Going the extra mile, doing whatever it takes, to the extreme - or whatever you want to call it, that's the attitude you must have if you're serious about your tournament fishing. I honestly believe the saying, "can to can't" and it's the rule of thumb I go by. In practice, I launch my boat before daylight. When I get to the ramp 99 percent of the time I'm the first one there. And I'll usually be the last one to load up. I've even gone so far as to get to the boat ramp at the end of the day, notice someone still out, and continue to fish in the area until they load up.
If you don't need your running lights at both the beginning and end of your practice day, then you're not doing your best.
I've used this philosophy in my own tournaments for years. In my last BASS Top 100 in Mobile, Alabama, on the first day of practice I burned 62 gallons of gas. I launched at daylight and didn't get back to my motel room until 8:00 p.m. that evening. The bass I found on that first day allowed me to make the top 10 cut. In a Honey Hole team tournament on Richland-Chambers, I found a good school of bass that I believed I could win the tournament with. I was afraid someone else would locate them because in these events you can launch at 4:00 a.m. from any public ramp. The closest ramp to my fishing spot was on the opposite side of the lake so to make it to the ramp at 4:00 a.m. my partner and I had to leave our motel room at 2:30. At 4:00 a.m. there was only one other boat at the ramp. It took a lot of extra effort to make sure we were the first ones to the spot, but it paid off. We didn't see another boat until 5:45 a.m.
At a couple's tournament a few years ago on Tawakoni, the lake was over five feet low. I knew this would make the lake fish very "small" be cause most of the docks were high and dry. It would take some extra effort to get away from the pressure and in order to do well I would have to locate fish at an out-of-the-way area.
About a month before this event I went to a creek that I knew had held bass in the past. I knew I couldn't reach the creek with my Champion, so I went as far as I could then waded into the creek to find a deeper channel. After wading in the muck, sometimes sinking up to my waist, I found a slightly deeper area and marked it. I later came back with a 16-foot aluminum boat, got a good running start and tried to jump the boat into the creek. I spent five hours stuck in the mud, but I wasn't going to give up on that creek yet. I went back a few days later with a high school kid who wanted to earn a few bucks and we used shovels to dig a channel 200 yards long. During the second day of our digging, Ben Jarrett of Skeeter Boats showed up in an aluminum boat with a Go-Devil on the back. He went right in around me and never had to get out of his boat. That was a good lesson for me. There's always a better way. You just have to keep an open mind.
Rethinking my strategy, I borrowed a 14-foot flat-bottom that was easier to push. But after returning to the lake before the tournament I found the lake had dropped another six inches. That took more digging, for six hours, to make the creek accessible. Not only that there was a huge tree jam about a half a mile up the creek blocking the way as well. It took a couple of hours working on that with a chain saw to create a passable way through it into the creek. Working together, Ben and I even went to the ramp closest to this creek and dug it out for easier launching.
Even though neither one of us ended up winning the event we did make a respectable showing. My daughter Bree and I finished second and Ben and his wife Christy finished fourth. We both caught plenty of fish and had limits each day. And that's all you can ask in any tournament, to have the opportunity to win depends on your propensity to execute any changes necessary.
This may sound like a lot of effort for a tournament. But this is what I mean by going the extra mile. Doing whatever it takes to try to win will make you a more successful tournament angler. You can bet that somebody you're fishing against is putting this kind of time and effort into finding themselves in the winner's circle. And if they are, they're more likely to get there.
I hope to see you there soon. 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.