Frog Fishing

You've Got To Be Willing To Lose, To Win

Tournament Tips
Winning tournaments

I think every bass tournament angler out there dreams of winning the Bassmasters Classic. Getting there is not easy, as many anglers can confess.

Many Pros often talk about "Swinging for the fences" when fishing tournaments. But how many anglers listen to that advice? What does that mean? It's simple: To win at any level, you've got to be willing to take chances! The big chance that you take is the chance of "losing"!

This whole idea of "swinging for the fences" is a mindset. At any level of tournaments, we have to take what is given to us and take advantage of that opportunity. "Swinging for the fences" is fishing a tournament to win, not to lose.

That may sound obvious, but it isn't. It means when you fish in a tournament at any level, you need to fish the tournament to win instead of fishing the tournament to avoid losing. Many anglers fish tournaments with the attitude of "I just want to catch a fish to weigh in and not come in last." When I hear that, it tells me that the angler has little to no confidence in themselves and their ability. Another common situation is, after fishing 5 or 6 hours in a tournament without a bite, the angler says, "You know it's just nice to get out on the water." Sound familiar?

Many anglers that fish tournaments are so afraid to "Zero" that they don't fish to their full potential. They have it in their minds that all I want is to catch a fish to weigh in. To be successful at any level of tournament fishing, you have to set yourself apart from the norm. Norm - meaning fishing conservatively.

When we fish in a tournament, we all would love to fish our strengths, but how often does that happen? We have to take what is given to us and take advantage of that opportunity. This is when being a versatile angler comes into play. Take Barry Bonds, for example. When he steps up to the plate, most pitchers pitch around him. They don't give him what he wants. But Barry is a perfect example of taking what is given to him and "adjusting" to the situation at hand.

When fishing in a tournament, we have to take what is given to us! We cannot control the weather or water conditions, but we must accept them. Adjusting to the conditions at hand is the name of the game. We are adjusting not only to the fishing conditions but also our mindset. For example, say we located a group of largemouth that we know will win the tournament in practice. In practice, we caught them on topwater. When we get to our spot on tournament morning, nothing. This is when many anglers are sunk. The bass won't hit topwater, so now what do I do? This is when visions of "Zeroing" come into play. What an angler should be saying to himself is, "Ok, I know there are fish here. All I need to do is find out the key to catching them." Remember, we must adjust to the weather and water conditions, and we must always keep that positive "Winning Attitude."

Being a tournament winner is a breed apart. When we see an angler win two or three tournaments in a season, we don't realize what that means. You have to tell yourself: I am different from all other anglers in the tournament because I have a "Winning Attitude."

A "Winning Attitude" is described as having confidence in yourself and your ability. An angler with a "Winning Attitude" never loses focus, and their concentration never leaves the task at hand.

Does that mean an angler with a "Winning Attitude" wins every tournament they enter? Of course not! However, it does mean that an angler can look back and say I fished to the very best of my ability at the end of the day. A "Winning Attitude" does not automatically make you a champion. Still, it makes you a winner because you are setting yourself apart from the many anglers out there who never fish to their actual ability. After all, they are afraid of Zero.

You may be thinking that this only happens at the club level, wrong. Recently, at a Bassmaster Tour Event, a pro said, "I just want to catch a fish so that I can go up on stage." A "Winning Attitude" will pay dividends when practiced tournament after tournament.

One of my previous articles said that fishing in a tournament is 80% mental after about four years of tournament fishing. This holds at every level of fishing. There is only one thing holding you back from having a "Winning Attitude," and that is YOURSELF! If you don't see yourself winning a tournament, you probably never will! You can't worry about what someone else might think if you come in with no fish. The minute you start worrying about what someone else thinks, your mind has already lost its focus, and that focus is tough to get back. Being conservative is very difficult to compete in this sport very long.

Remember that some of the most consistent pros have never won a tournament on the tournament trail in many years. You and only you are holding you back from having a "Winning Attitude." But remember, you must first be willing to lose to win.