Do­ing it your­self and net­work­ing with other an­glers are both ef­fec­tive means of pre­par­ing for a tour­na­ment, but which one is right for you? Two of FLW’s big­gest stars, Scott Martin and Andy Mor­gan, weigh in.

SA Bass - - Contents - By Ken Duke

“Two Schools of thought on Tour­na­ment Prepa­ra­tion” Do­ing it your­self and net­work­ing with other an­glers are both ef­fec­tive means of pre­par­ing for a tour­na­ment, but which one is right for you? – Ken Duke

They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s def­i­nitely more than one way to pre­pare for a bass tour­na­ment … or even a long week­end on the wa­ter. Just ask Andy Mor­gan and Scott Martin, two of FLW’s bright­est stars. Be­tween them, they have a Forrest Wood Cup cham­pi­onship (see side­bar), 36 Cup ap­pear­ances, four FLW Tour Angler of the Year ti­tles, eight FLW Tour wins and al­most $5 mil­lion in tour­na­ment prize money.

You could make a solid ar­gu­ment that ei­ther pro is the B.O.A.T. (best of all-time) in FLW his­tory, but they have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to tour­na­ment prepa­ra­tion styles.

Mor­gan is old school, pre­fer­ring to find and fig­ure out bass on his own, with as lit­tle out­side in­flu­ence and in­put as pos­si­ble. He ex­em­pli­fies the do-it-your­self at­ti­tude that has mostly pre­vailed in the sport for decades.

Martin’s ap­proach to pre­par­ing for com­pe­ti­tion, which in­cludes gath­er­ing in­for­ma­tion on a fish­ery from out­side sources, isn’t “new.” In fact, many would say his father – the le­gendary Roland Martin – was its pioneer. More re­cently, Scott has de­vel­oped a small group of con­fi­dantes who can give him in­sight into var­i­ous fish­eries and help him find what he calls the “pulse” of the wa­ter be­fore he ever launches his boat.

There’s no ques­tion that ei­ther method can work – the results of our ex­perts speak vol­umes – but each can fail just as spec­tac­u­larly if done with­out con­sid­er­ing a num­ber of mit­i­gat­ing fac­tors. And at least in this case, the “two schools” of thought are not re­ally at odds; call them dif­fer­ent re­sponses to dif­fer­ent needs and dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances.

Mu­tual Dis­claimers

Andy Mor­gan: “I oc­ca­sion­ally like to get some good gen­eral in­for­ma­tion, but I’d rather fig­ure things out my­self. Part of the prob­lem is find­ing sources you know re­ally well and who know how you think and fish.”

Scott Martin: “Fig­ur­ing things out all on your own is great, but it can be im­prac­ti­cal at times. I can’t al­ways get away to pre-prac­tice for an event, and my home in south Florida is a long way from most of our venues. Uti­liz­ing my re­sources as best I can within the rules of com­pe­ti­tion is just an­other way of ed­u­cat­ing my­self and get­ting up to speed about what’s hap­pen­ing on a body of wa­ter when we have such a limited pe­riod of time to pre­pare.”

The Ba­sics

Andy Mor­gan: “Fig­ur­ing things out on my own and avoid­ing dock talk or other out­side in­for­ma­tion keeps me from hav­ing a lot of pre­con­ceived ideas about where the fish are and what they’re do­ing. That stuff can waste a lot of time and give you a lot of men­tal hur­dles to over­come. It’s hard to fo­cus on one tech­nique when you hear that you

should be try­ing some­thing else, es­pe­cially when that ‘some­thing else’ is not some­thing you’re com­fort­able do­ing.

“I’ve never been suc­cess­ful run­ning some­body else’s stuff. I feel like I’m off chas­ing rab­bits. When I was grow­ing up, if any­body told you any­thing about fish­ing, they were prob­a­bly ly­ing to you. I tried fig­ur­ing things out on my own be­cause I didn’t have a lot of peo­ple I felt I could trust.”

Scott Martin: “When peo­ple talk about get­ting out­side in­for­ma­tion to pre­pare for a tour­na­ment, a lot of them have the wrong idea. I don’t want specifics or way­points or even baits or col­ors. I want good, gen­eral in­for­ma­tion like which end of the lake has been most pro­duc­tive or what tech­niques are catch­ing the most fish or a very gen­eral over­view of what’s hap­pen­ing. I want the ‘pulse’ of the lake, and it doesn’t tell me ex­actly where to fish or what to throw, but it gives me a start­ing point to fig­ure things out.”


Andy Mor­gan: “I want to get paid every­where we go. Ba­si­cally, I rely a lot on sea­sonal pat­terns, and I watch the weather re­ally closely for two or three weeks in ad­vance of a tour­na­ment. Oth­er­wise, I’m just look­ing for very gen­eral in­for­ma­tion – like how much weight it’s tak­ing to win local tour­na­ments and stuff like that. If it takes 20 pounds to do well and I’m only catch­ing 12, I know I need to be do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. I just want to know if I should hold ’em or fold ’em.”

Scott Martin: “I’m look­ing for in­for­ma­tion that can help me get on a pat­tern – or two or more. I don’t want spots be­cause they rarely hold up – con­di­tions are al­ways chang­ing – and spots rarely win tour­na­ments. Spots are usu­ally what you fish when you don’t have a solid pat­tern.”

Lim­i­ta­tions and Pit­falls

Andy Mor­gan: “Be­cause I’m bat­tling the clock and my own pref­er­ence for cer­tain tech­niques, do­ing it my­self can be lim­it­ing. A lot of times I don’t get on the win­ning pat­tern or location or bait, and as a re­sult I haven’t won a lot of ma­jor tour­na­ments in my ca­reer. But I’ve been con­sis­tent and have picked up a lot of checks and Angler of the Year points.”

Scott Martin: “I had to learn what in­for­ma­tion I wanted and who I could

trust to give it to me. Some­times, get­ting too spe­cific has cost me. And some­times prac­tic­ing and get­ting on fish too far in ad­vance of the tour­na­ment has caused me to waste a lot of com­pe­ti­tion time. It’s easy to get locked into what the bass were do­ing rather than fo­cus on what they are do­ing. Un­til you have some ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with in­for­ma­tion from other an­glers, that can cre­ate prob­lems for you. It’s one thing to have in­for­ma­tion – even good in­for­ma­tion – but some­thing else to use it suc­cess­fully.”

(Un­ex­pected) Ben­e­fits

Andy Mor­gan: “Do­ing things on my own and with­out a lot of out­side in­for­ma­tion has forced me to fo­cus on what works for me rather than what works for other guys. Any­one who knows me can tell you that I rely on about four dif­fer­ent tech­niques, but I can adapt those four tech­niques to a lot of dif­fer­ent con­di­tions just by mov­ing shal­lower or deeper or by speed­ing up or slow­ing down. That makes it eas­ier for me to break down the fish­ing con­di­tions as quickly as pos­si­ble.”

Scott Martin: “Work­ing with other an­glers I trust has made me a more ver­sa­tile fish­er­man. When you talk with an ex­cel­lent angler and he tells you that a cer­tain pat­tern might be strong, you ei­ther learn that method or lose the benefit of that in­for­ma­tion. Over time, you be­come more well-rounded, and there are fewer holes in your game. Tour­na­ment prepa­ra­tion and work­ing with oth­ers has made me a lot bet­ter through the years, and it keeps pay­ing div­i­dends all the time.”


Andy Mor­gan: “I’m con­fi­dent that my way is bet­ter … for me. But that doesn’t mean it’s best for ev­ery­one. Un­til you know what your niches are and how your mind works as a tour­na­ment angler, you can’t re­ally make a de­ter­mi­na­tion like that. I do be­lieve that do­ing ev­ery­thing on your own is be­com­ing a thing of the past, and that it’s an in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult method to use. In­for­ma­tion is key, and it’s get­ting eas­ier to find good, re­li­able in­for­ma­tion these days. There’s just too much in­for­ma­tion out there.”

Scott Martin: “First, you need to trust your in­stincts. De­velop them and know that they’re more valu­able than any out­side source. Sec­ond, do your re­search. Look at maps, check Google and gen­er­ally do all the home­work you can be­fore you get to the wa­ter. Fi­nally, if you’re go­ing to work with other peo­ple, use one or two sources. Don’t try to get a piece of in­for­ma­tion here and an­other piece there. Find a hand­ful of trusted friends that you can look to, not a bunch of ran­dom dudes you don’t know well. And con­sider work­ing with some­one else who’s fish­ing the event with you.”

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