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Bassnajr

"Mental Tournaments"...Does anyone else do this?? How do you practice????

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Hey all....

This spring and summer has been a great learning experience for me. Although I am no puppy, I am new to bass fishing (one year). I have a lot of great people willing to teach me and I am a sponge to learn. To practice what I have learned, and add my own ideas, I have started to fish "tournaments" against myself. I know this sounds weird, but I feel it helps. I set my boat up just as I would for a tournament: gear, rods, live wells etc. My goal when I start is of course to bag five keepers. Then try to get the weight up. I find by doing these "mental tourneys" I slow down and think more about what is going on around me. The weather, where I am catching the fish, what color plastice or hard bait are they hitting, and so on. I wonder does anyone else practice like this, if not, would other members be willing to share their practice "routines". Hope to here from you all.

Peace :)

ajr

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I fish mental tournaments everytime I hit the water whether it be a 4 hr trip or an 8 hr trip and what part of day I start does not matter. If I'm on my boat, I'm fishing like I'm on the clock.

I will just go and ****** 5 as fast as I can, usually a shaky head or AB Trick Stick on some docks. Getting some bites, big or small, helps get everything flowing. I don't count any fish that are not 14". After I get 5 keepers, I will almost always start fishing deeper water with a jig or deep crankbait, especially in the summertime.

Then just prior to tournament day, I take everything from the practice period and sort thru it all. If I've found a good concentration of quality fish I'll go straight to them and catch all I can. If not, I go back to the shaky head and Trick Stick approach....then move around for bigger fish later.

You can win a tournament with less than five fish....but why chance it?

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Every time I hit the water. It is a great way to prepare yourself. I believe the mental part of it is the most important part of any tournament fisherman's preparation..

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It is the only way to fish in my opinion.  But those long 13-15 hour days prefishing in that mindset will make you go nuts. And when you can't get firing on all cylanders after a few days of staying in that mindset for 15 hours it makes you want to sell it all.

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I guess I do but, I guess my mindset is a little different than yours.

When I'm out I'm always in the hunt for the best pattern I can put together. I'm looking for that one "thing" or things that puts me on the fish. It may take me a couple trips to figure them out. If that first trip doesn't produce what I'm looking for hopefully it atleast gave me a clue. When I pre-fish I am trying to let the fish talk to me. This is when I really start thinking. Even if I have a productive day, I'm wondering where a back up pattern might be or how could it have been more productive.

My most important goal is to find as many spots holding fish as I can and how to catch them.

I guess you are talking about setting goals. Always a good thing! Sorry if I got off beat.

CJ

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I do this as well.  If I'm out for an all day trip, I kick off the morning with topwaters if the fish will have it.  If there is a strike on a popper or buzzbait, I've got the gear and the love to keep at it.  A lot of times, this is when I'll get those first five fish.

Once the topwater bite slows down, so do I.  I'll switch to deeper diving crankbaits, jigs, and soft plastic rigs.  I try to keep a heavy jig (1/2oz or bigger) on when fishing deep water.  If I'm in a shallow lake, I use a 1/4oz.  With my texas rigs, I use the lightest weight I can for the conditions.  With Carolina rigs, I go as heavy as my tacklebox will allow.  

As the day progresses around lunch time, I'm fully focused on either finishing my 5 fish limit or finding kicker fish.  That mentality progresses throughout the day as I establish patterns on the lake.  I usually ignore the afternoon topwater action and fish under the smaller bass, pulling crankbaits or swimming jigs looking for bigger fish below the bait.

Everytime I fish I am against the lake, myself, and the fish.  Putting together a puzzle that gets me more action than the last trip is just as enjoyable as pocketing a check from a tournament.  Of course, there are days that nothing goes right, but I make the best of them as well by keeping notes and comparing them to past notes.  It's all a learning experience that I hope to apply in Stren and BFL tournaments as a co-angler as early as next year.  

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No, never.

I don't fish for little bass. I would rather score zero than

catch "tournament bass".  My motto is "Go big or go home".

8-)

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I don't think anyone fishes for little ones RW......

They do have a tendancy to show up to the party though. ;)

ajr

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I don't think anyone fishes for little ones RW......

They do have a tendancy to show up to the party though. ;)

ajr

I know situations vary from lake to lake, but overall, those that consistantly bring five fish to weigh-in finish in the money more often over time. When Larry Nixon was in his prime, he tried focusing on big bass for a couple of years and got his butt beat, badly.

8-)

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Before every tournament I get into a mindset that my fiance says is VERY strange. LOL But I will take EVERYTHING out of my boat. I will then clean my boat inside and out. Once I have cleaned out the boat and cleaned it up I will take ALL of my tackle and rods/reels into my house. I will then rearrange all of my tackle and lures around to make sure they will be ready for the givin' body of water I am fishing. Once all the lures are arraged I will then restring all of my poles and grease the reels and make sure everything is ready. Once the boat is dry I will then wax the boat so it looks good, wash and wax the truck so my whole rig looks nice and then I will start to put all of my equipment back into the boat.

That is how I work and get through the fever of the upcoming tournaments. ;D ;D ;D ;D

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Fishing agianst yourself is OK if win, it must be a bummer losing.

I think the tournament influence of 5 fish limit becomes nearly everones goal when bass fishing, it's the yard stick so to speak. 5 keepers or 5 big bass for the heavest limit, what ever your personal goal may be.

The problem is getting into a routine where you just try to catch 5 keepers first and then target a kicker. Why not take the advantage of having no clock, other than the basses time table for bitting and taget big bass when they are active. It is a mistake to target keepers when bigger bass are bitting.

For example, first light fishing a top water lure tight to cover and catching a few school bass working the bait close to cover. Your chances for big bass may in fact be out over your shoulder in deeper water. Fishing a top water mid day with a light wind chop may in fact be more productive then Carolina fishing weed edges.

To be a consistant tournament bass fisherman you need to learn to locate bass first and then target them. Running to spots you believe may have bass because it's your normal "milk run" routine rarely works consistantly, it is dependant on being at the right spot at the right time. If you take the pulse of the lake before you make your fisrt boat run, you may have the information to help you start at the right place at the right time.

What you need to know;

Seasonal period.

Water temperature and clarity.

Thermocline level.

Depth the bait fish are at.

Prey type the bass are targeting.

Weather conditions expected during the outing.

When you know the bass are targeting shad emerging for shoreline cover, then use the top water tight to cover presentation. However if the bass are on a crawdad bite, you may be better off targeting clay to rock transition areas where crawdads live, at the depth the bass are feeding, with crawdad mimicing lure like jigs, soft plastics and crankbaits bounced along the bottom at first light. Instead of catching a few keepers, you may catch a few big bass early and stay on a good bite all day.

WRB

PS; do the bass a favor and release them instead of keeping your best 5 in the livewell, it's only a mental excercise not a tournament.

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Used to do it quite frequently, but I don't believe in doing it all the time, or just doing it haphazardly. There was always a mentally stated timeframe and objective. Some days it was just how fast could I put 1 keeper in the boat. Others it was best weight in a given amount of time. Still others it was simply most fish caught in a specified time. The reason for this is because these are all unique situations that should be practiced for specifically. This format also carries over into things such as efficiency.

Another rule was never to practice for a real tourney under these constraints. Worse thing I ever saw people do (IMO) was to fish a tourney and use it as practice for another tourney (usually a larger one) the following day. In practice my goal was to eliminate water. Eliminating water frequently means not catching much. You should never put yourself in a position where you are trying to practice and put fish in the boat while money is on the line. You need the freedom to be able to blank and eliminate things, try off the wall spots or off the wall patterns, or do something different than what you normally do in order to try and find something special. It is very hard to do that correctly when $$ is on the line.

So I say keep doing it, make each practice done like that more specific so you can compare results and either see improvements or identify weaknesses, but don't do it all the time. You need "play time" to test new baits, check new areas, learn new techniques without any added pressure.

-T9

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i also do this everytime that i go out. i havent been able to fish a tournament in a yr and a half but i still practice like i am fishing one. i want to get back into tournys this yr again.

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I know this one has sank to the bottom a bit, but I thought I'd chime in anyways.

There are 3 different mindsets that I will approach the lake with:

1. The mental tournament mindset. Like you guys have said, I try to act like I'm in a tournament. Everything is done the same way it would be done as if I was in a tournament.

2. The experimental mindset. These are the days where I just try to learn things. I will try to focus on a type of lure, a certain type of structure, or just anything that I feel I need to get better at. If I'm only focused on catching 5 fish as quick as I can, I'm usually not learning anything new, I'm only exercising the things that I already have a handle on.

What I do here is usually go somewhere that I know fish probably are, and try to catch them on something that I normally wouldn't use because I have no confidence in my ability to land fish with it. And when I do this I usually do it fairly slow, at a pace where I can analyze anything that is or isn't happening. I do this so that come the real tournament, my bag of tricks is deeper than it would be if I stuck to my 5 or 6 standard methods.

When I started with this fishing thing, I had some buddies who I thought were pretty good fishermen. But then after I fished some tournys with them, and we finished in the bottom half, I realized that they had some holes in their game. One of them can fish his frog with the best of them, and another knows his T-rig like the back of his hand. But when tourny day comes around and the only thing getting bites is a crankbait, or C-rig, or slow falling plastics, whatever it may be, they're completely stumped. I promised myself after those defeats that I would never be out there without a strong list of backup plans again.

3. Simply casual. Sometimes it's fun to just go out and fish. Call up a friend who isn't a die hard bass fisherman and just take them out on the lake for the heck of it. For me it's best to just relax on the lake sometimes. I'm lucky enough to be a single college guy with a short list of obligations or responsibilities, so during the summer months I'm able to get out on the water after work pretty much every day. If I'm pushing myself too hard every single one of those days, I start to forget the reason I'm out there. Winning is a lot of fun, but I can't let myself forget that I fish because I love it with a deep passion. These relaxation days help me keep that in check.

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I'm like diver_sniper in that I sometimes fish a mental tournament, sometimes fish to experiment, and sometimes I just go fishing.

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Is this not what everyone's goal should be every time we hit the water?

Even when experimenting with a new lure the goal should be to catch bass not get skunked and say oh well I was only experimenting anyway.

On Toledo Bend Reservoir the fishing regulations are controlled by Texas and Louisiana laws, Texas law is 5 bass with a minimum of 14 in length, Louisiana law is 8 bass with a minimum of 14 in length. My goal every time I'm on the lake is to catch a minimum of 8 keeper bass; I also know the structure I'm fishing produce kicker bass other wise I wouldn't be fishing it.

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Is this not what everyone's goal should be every time we hit the water?

Even when experimenting with a new lure the goal should be to catch bass not get skunked and say oh well I was only experimenting anyway.

Yes, the goal is to catch fish, but not neccesarily in a "mental tournament" mindset. Would you go into a tournament with a plan to use a technique you had never practiced? I wouldn't. Today I went out wanting to try out the jig tips that Joe S. posted. I knew that there were a lot of bass holding in thick grass, but I didn't think that would be the ideal place for this experiment, so I left those fish to move to a more suitable area. In a tournament, would you leave active fish because you wanted to catch fish on a different type of lure? I wouldn't.

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I go through the same mental process of preparation even when taking my 7 year old grandson fishing because it's second nature to me.  

No I would never experiment with new lures during a tournament ;)

I never go out on the lake with the attitude of accepting defeat and that is what y'all are talking about doing and that my friend is the difference between anglers who consistently catch bass & those who don't.

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I never go out on the lake with the attitude of accepting defeat and that is what y'all are talking about doing and that my friend is the difference between anglers who consistently catch bass & those who don't.

I think we are missing each other on this one. I don't think anyone is saying that they are trying not to catch fish. We're just saying that sometimes we go out with a focus on one certain type of lure or technique. Not because we think it's the only way to catch fish that day, but rather because we want to grasp an understanding of the method so that if ever facing tournament conditions that force us to switch to tactics we wouldn't normally begin with, we have a feel for it.

Just last night I had some crankbaits arrive in the mail, and my roommate looked at them and said, "You fish for bass with those things? All I ever really use is worms, maybe a Sluggo from time to time." And I replied to him, "Well, I haven't fished them much yet, but I'm gonna work hard to learn how to use them, so that I have a wider variety options anytime I'm on the water."

The part I didn't say to him was that if we fished tournaments against each other, I would probably win more often because I'm trying to hone multiple skills while you're sitting on just a couple.

Sure I'm probably going to face some defeat while venturing into these new challenges, but that doesn't mean I'm accepting of the fact that it didn't catch me any fish. I'm trying to catch a fish on every cast, just like the lures I already know well. But when I do start to catch fish or distinguish a pattern, I've just stepped my game up a level. If I hadn't gone through the couple days of struggling I never would have attained this new skill. But now I got it, and I'm better off because of it.

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Forget the term Tournament mindset; it's a Catching mindset

My mental preparation is exactly the same each and every time I decide to go fishing; it is something that can not be turned off at will because it is engrained into my mentality.

Anglers with my years of experience understand there are no new techniques and there are some newly shaped baits of what has already excised. We also understand the wide variety options lay in our ability to find bass under adverse conditions no in new lures or techniques. That's why we have become so laid back in our approach and that is why younger anglers become so hyper chasing after every new lure or techniques.

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Forget the term Tournament mindset; it's a Catching mindset

My mental preparation is exactly the same each and every time I decide to go fishing; it is something that can not be turned off at will because it is engrained into my mentality.

Anglers with my years of experience understand there are no new techniques and there are some newly shaped baits of what has already excised. We also understand the wide variety options lay in our ability to find bass under adverse conditions no in new lures or techniques. That's why we have become so laid back in our approach and that is why younger anglers become so hyper chasing after every new lure or techniques.

Now that's telling it like the way it really is.  

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Catt, I can only hope that someday I have the vast amount of knowledge and experience that you possess. Perhaps then, when I have nothing left to learn, I will treat every outing as a tournament.

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Ah my friend but I do learn something on every outing due to my mental preparation but if you choose to turn your mental preparation off go ahead & see what you learn.

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Okay Catt, now I'm really curious. You treat every outing as a tournament, but...

First you said that you know the structure you're fishing will produce kicker fish or you wouldn't be fishing there. Are you prefishing like you are in a tournament; sore-lipping all your quality fish before the tournament?

Next, you said that you would never experiment with new lures during a tournament. Later, you said that there are no new lures or techniques. I would have to agree with you on that, but I realize that I am not proficient with all of them. If there are no new lures or techniques and you would never experiment during a tournament, when do you try something new? Are you saying that you are proficient with every lure? Are you saying that you don't want to add anything to your arsenal? I'm sure thats not it because you learn something new every outing. What exactly are you learning?

One last thing. Can you please explain to me how going fishing with a primary purpose of learning a new technique translates into turning off my mental preperation and accepting defeat.

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