It all started about twenty years ago. I first got my feet wet in the back of my Dads boat. I know what you are thinking "That's no different than how I started, so what makes this guy any different than me?"
Well, I could tell you that the reason I feel I am an excellent angler is that I have twenty years of experience on the water, or how many tournaments wins I have had, or that I learned from top touring pro and that made me a good bass fisherman, but that is not the case. I firmly believe that the intangible things that I have learned have made me blossom into a good angler. Doing things that the average fisherman would never think of. Try to learn from every fisherman you have ever fished with, and learn from your experiences. Here are some tips that can make you a great bass fisherman.
First, keep in mind that bass fishing is still very young, so this means that all anglers are new, and professionals still have a lot to learn about the sport! (Remember in basketball when players shot free throws with a granny shot?) Our sport, too, will keep evolving.
Nothing is better than on the water experience, but if you are out there and just going through the motions doing the same thing every time, you will not become any better! Keep a fresh mind; be aware of your surroundings and what is happening. If you're having a bad day, try something new or move to a different stretch of water.
Take notes on the water. I go to the extreme of having my spouse video me fishing, and then I will go home and watch the video and see what worked and what didn't. This is the best way I have found to do this. I use these as my daily fishing log. I date each file with the lake name on it. When the fishing day starts, I talk to the camera, telling the conditions I will be facing and what I expect to work for that day. It's like doing a fishing show, but you can go back over them whenever you want and see what you should be doing on a given lake under those given conditions. Suppose you don't have a camera, use the voice recorder on your phone, or bring a notepad. Use them to take notes and go over them often. This way, you will not forget about things you have tried in the past.
Watch informative fishing videos, tv shows, and DVDs. BassResource has hundreds of instructional fishing videos that helped me tremendously. Don't just watch the videos and listen to the fisherman talk and watch them catch fish. Take some notes, and try some of the things they are doing. Add some new twists to what you have learned. Pay attention and watch them several times in a row. You will catch a few things that you missed the first couple of times. Go to seminars and classes on bass fishing. Take some notes here, too. I like to use the voice recorder on my phone and record the entire session. (You may want to check with the seminar director to ensure this will be ok.) It is just like being in school. The more notes you take, and the more you study them, the better you will do on the test.
Talk to other bass fishermen on forums such as this one and learn new things. If a guy says he uses a new technique that sounds crazy, don't just blow it off. Try it. You'll be surprised at things that often sound like they shouldn't work do. "I made that mistake when tube baits first came out!"
Read about the sport of bass fishing, like you are doing now. BassResource has a deep library of fishing articles. Also, several bass fishing books can be bought or checked out at your local library. Read all the bass fishing material you can get your hands on. Again, go over the articles several times, trying new and different things you have read about. Don't be afraid to add your unique twist to new techniques. Bass get conditioned to seeing the same things over and over again. If you are doing something different, it may pay off with a couple more fish at the end of your line.
Don't sell yourself short. Fish hard every time on the water. Don't just fish morning and afternoon. Make a point to fish when the fish are inactive. Most anglers beat the banks using the same technique and lure every time out. Make it a point to learn to be a different breed of bass fisherman. Learn to fish deep-water structures, new techniques, and lures you are not accustomed to using. Try to become very versatile. Learn as many aspects of the sport as you can.
You get the idea. Be a bass fishing sponge and always be willing to learn. Don't just go bass fishing to catch bass. Go bass fishing to learn bass fishing! This is how I have become a good bass fisherman. You have to put forth the extra effort. Before you know it, you will be doing things from instinct and catching fish when others can't. These are the things that separate the great from the average. In this sport, it is the small things that count the most!
There is no more significant thing in life than what we choose to do with our free time.