Be VersatileBe Versatile
If you want to become a better tournament angler, you need to fish all types of water conditions and locations.
By Bill Wilcox
In my last column, I wrote about the first two tournament events that I fished, one on the Potomac River and one at New Orleans. As you recall, a Texas boy was sure out of his element bass fishing in tidal waters. But when you're tournament fishing, the one thing you don't get to do is pick and chose when, where, and the time of year you get to fish your water.
If you want to become a better tournament angler, you need to fish all types of water conditions and locations. The one thing above all else that I feel will make you a better angler overall is fishing in tough conditions, or fishing types of water that you've never faced before. In my case, that was tidal waters. If you are pre-fishing or just fishing for fun, go to the lake even if the wind is blowing or it's raining or cold, hot or any other number of reasons. Anybody can catch 'em when fishing under ideal conditions. How often is everything perfect in your tournament? I bet not often.
Even when you don't catch anything use that as a positive, not as a negative. On practice days you can eliminate some of the water. If you have been fishing docks with no bites on practice day, then don't waste your time in your tournament hours on docks. Always remember, let the bass tell you where they are and what they want. Don't be stubborn and hardheaded and try to make them bite when you've already spent a fruitless day on docks. Move on to something else. There are always plenty of patterns on any given day, on any given lake. Just keep an open mind and stay versatile in your approach. Did you fish the bridges or dam area? Every lake has bridges and a dam. If the docks did not produce, then maybe the shoreline between them shouldn't be over looked. I can't tell you how many times on Cedar Creek or Tawakoni that the areas between the docks have produced for me. Sure there's lots of bass most of the time under docks on any given lake, but you've got to keep an open mind. As we all know there are so many variables when it comes to tournaments. We can't possible try them all in one day. Try to learn something about your lake ever time you go out. Don't keep going to the same water every time you go. I try to make it a point on every trip to, at least once during the day, go to some part of the lake that I've never been to before. I can't tell you how many productive spots and patterns I've come across doing this. Sometimes I've been forced to do this during an actual tournament. If I'm going to new water during computation, then the conditions will have changed dramatically. The lake level will have to rise or fall, the wind or weather will have had to do a "180" on me.
To have to look for new water during the tournament will put you at big disadvantage. But sometimes going for broke is what you might have to do. This doesn't usually work out very well for you, but sometimes you might have nothing to lose. Almost without exception in tournaments where I've won or finished high, I knew before the event where and how I was going to catch them. Think back on your own tournament history and I'll bet you'll find this to be true also.
In your tournament don't get caught up in what happened in the past. Keep an open mind on what's happening right then. You'll do better at the final weigh-in and that's what we all try to do in the end always.
Good luck and God Bless.
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