Dur­ing tour­na­ments you can­not pick the weather…

SA Bass - - Contents - >> Ben­nie Wiese*

“Tour­na­ment Strat­egy (Part-2)” You have been prac­tic­ing for the next tour­na­ment and you did very well. Now you want to test your­self against other an­glers. But are you ready? – Ben­nie Wiese

In Part-1 we looked at men­tal and phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion, study­ing the venue and look­ing for ac­tive fish. In this is­sue we will look at al­ter­na­tive baits, man­ag­ing your fish­ing time and land­ing big fish.

Al­ter­na­tive baits

Top an­glers al­most never re­veal the lures that they catch kicker fish on, es­pe­cially on dams that get a lot of tour­na­ment pres­sure and so­cial an­glers year after year. I be­lieve bass get con­di­tioned to cer­tain baits and week­end boat traf­fic. Fish­ing can be bet­ter dur­ing the week days, but come week­ends, and bass get lock jaw.

Spin­ner­baits, worms, and jerk­baits, are con­ven­tional baits that will catch fish and gen­er­ally th­ese are the fish that won’t win tour­na­ments. If you fish an in-house com­pe­ti­tion, you will look good with an av­er­age size bag but if you want to do bet­ter and win tour­na­ments, you will have to go after big fish.

Big­ger fish are usu­ally caught on walk­ing baits, buzzbaits, frogs and some of the new baits like the D2’s and Sweet Beaver. Jigs can give you bet­ter qual­ity fish but it isn’t enough to en­sure a win. Top­wa­ter baits like Zara’s, Dy­ing Flut­ters, Jit­ter­bugs and pen­cil pop­pers have al­ways de­liv­ered big bass in the past. Many big fish have been taken on th­ese lures be­cause the fish don’t see them of­ten. Just ask your­self when was the last time you used th­ese lures? Bass get fooled by the lures they don’t of­ten see. Per­son­ally, I like to get a limit of five fish in the boat be­fore I start look­ing for big fish.

It is im­por­tant to work th­ese baits in spe­cific ways that will make the dif­fer­ence, even if some of your com­peti­tors are us­ing the same lures. Fish­ing around struc­ture with top­wa­ter baits or dead stick­ing baits, or cast­ing di­rectly to the struc­ture can be very crit­i­cal. I be­lieve that with th­ese baits you also have to have a lot of pa­tience and nerves. Dead stick­ing can be a very ef­fec­tive way to fish es­pe­cially on pres­sured wa­ters. Dead stick­ing is us­ing soft plas­tics baits weight­less, and leav­ing the baits for long pe­ri­ods with­out mov­ing them next to struc­ture and it takes a lot of pa­tience.

Per­son­ally I like fish­ing sus­pend­ing jerk­baits. This way, pres­sured dams pro­duce big­ger bass. Don’t fish the bait with too much ac­tion - just let it sit there for a long time in be­tween move­ments.

Man­ag­ing your fish­ing time

Learn to prop­erly man­age your time through­out the day. You must know when to leave the area and move to the next area. A key part of the game plan is to know when and how to use your time. The mood of the fish can be dif­fer­ent to the day you found them so you have to ad­just to the day’s con­di­tions. Cold fronts can move in any time and spoil the day. Go out and prac­tice at any time of the year, even if the weather is bad or cold. Dur­ing tour­na­ments you can­not pick the weather and the odds are that many tour­na­ment days will be in the rain and wind and you will have to be pre­pared and know what to do on th­ese days. How many times have you been out fish­ing and the weather has changed so

You have been prac­tic­ing for the next tour­na­ment and you did very well. Now you want to test your­self against other an­glers. But are you ready? To win a tour­na­ment you have to have the edge over your com­peti­tors and cer­tain tac­tics can pro­duce a win.

you’ve packed up and gone home? It can­not hap­pen dur­ing tour­na­ments. So it’s best you keep on fish­ing and gain the ex­pe­ri­ence.

If pos­si­ble, plan your prac­tice for when the weather is bad. It is the only way to the learn what to do. Make as many casts as pos­si­ble un­til the very last minute, just be­fore light­ing chases you off the wa­ter. When the weather clears up, get back on the wa­ter as quickly as pos­si­ble. Re­mem­ber, time is im­por­tant in tour­na­ments and you must know how long it will take to get back to the weigh sta­tion in time. You will need to prac­tice driv­ing your boat in bad weather, un­der rough con­di­tions and at high speeds, if you re­ally want to win. Many an­glers have mis­cal­cu­lated their time in the past and have sub­se­quently been dis­qual­i­fied for ar­riv­ing late at the tag board.

Prac­tice land­ing big fish

Try to make trips to venues where you can gain ex­pe­ri­ence in fight­ing and land­ing large fish. Con­fi­dence can be the key to suc­cess in this game and by get­ting over ex­cited when you see the big fish can be your down­fall.

Tour­na­ment bass an­gling is a men­tal game and an­glers must learn how to keep a high level of aware­ness dur­ing the day’s fish­ing. Don’t get dis­tracted and don’t pay at­ten­tion to other com­peti­tors land­ing fish next to you. Keep to your game plan and fo­cus. Don’t try to show off be­cause I have seen many an­glers los­ing fish at the boat while land­ing them or at the weigh sta­tion while tak­ing fish out of the live well.

Main­tain your tackle and use the best equip­ment that you can af­ford. This will strengthen your con­fi­dence. I don’t say that it must be the most ex­pen­sive equip­ment, but you must have con­fi­dence in it and in your own abil­ity to use it prop­erly. Don’t ne­glect the ba­sics ei­ther, know how to tie all the proper knots for the baits you are us­ing and use the high­est qual­ity hooks avail­able. I can’t em­pha­size this enough. *Ben­nie Wiese is the ed­i­tor of SA Bass mag­a­zine and an ex­pe­ri­enced pro­vin­cial bass an­gler.

If pos­si­ble, plan your prac­tice for when the weather is bad Buzzbait

Junebug Chart Swirl soft plas­tic frog

Zarra Spook

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