There are many great bass fishermen in
the country, and one key characteristic
that they all have in common is focus.
There are so many variables in our sport,
that you can’t possibly be prepared
for every situation. But with the proper
focus you will be aware of, and overcome,
obstacles that can make the difference
between being a hero or a zero. I know
this first hand, because I’ve been
on both ends of the spectrum. When you
listen to some of the greats like Rick
Clunn, Rowland Martin, and Kevin Van Dam,
they all talk about reaching another level
of insight. I believe that insight is the
bi-product of focus.
There are many external factors that can
interfere with true focus. Since I am a
tournament angler, one of the biggest challenges
is when I get to my area, and find that
someone else is on the same fish. Over
the years, I have wasted lots of time worrying
about what the other boat is doing. If
I let myself fall into this trap of worrying
about the other boat, I usually end up
disappointed. It doesn’t matter how
many fish the other boat is catching, or
if they seem to be on the "hot spot" of
that specific area. My opponents may have
inadvertently stumbled upon that area,
and have no idea that the area is a gold
mine. If I have done my homework and have
found a good area, my best bet is to spend
time working for the fish that I know are
there, and ignore what the other guy is
doing. This sport is fish versus fisherman,
before it becomes fisherman versus fisherman.
In fact, in most of the tournaments I’ve
won there were several other boats fishing
the same area. So if you locate some big
fish in practice, don’t lose your
focus. If you do, it may be the other angler
carrying off the trophy at the the end
of the day.
Another great focus distracter for me
is weather. Living in East Texas, the hot
temperatures are always a factor during
the summer fishing season. It gets so hot
here that most boats will be on the trailer
before noon. But getting properly prepared
for the hot days will give you a big edge
and help you keep your focus on fishing.
Even if they stay on the lake, many fishermen
give up mentally early in the day if the
morning bite isn’t good. They may
be in their boat casting, but their minds
are thinking about the air-conditioned
truck back at the boat ramp. There are
a few things that I do to battle hot weather.
The most important thing is drinking lots
of water or sports drinks to stay hydrated.
Another important thing I do is make sure
I apply a good coat of sun block (spf 30
or higher). I like to wear a light-colored,
long sleeve, shirt with a collar, and a
hat, to keep the sun from burning my neck,
face, and arms. Most of the summertime
events on grass lakes will be won in the
midday hours. If you can’t hang in
the challenging elements, you won’t
be the one collecting a check at the end
of the day.
Just as challenging as the hot weather
can be, frigid temperatures can be even
worse. Some of the most miserable fishing
days I’ve experienced were due to
the combination of below-freezing temps
and my failure to dress properly. You want
to make sure you have a good gortex or
snow suit to wear on those cold days. Gloves
are another important factor in fighting
the cold. I like a big, thick pair to wear
while running the boat, and a light pair
with the fingertips cut out to wear while
fishing. It is incredibly hard to stay
focused on fishing if all you can think
of is how cold you are.
One last thing, and definitely the biggest
problem that I encountered early in my
tournament career, is becoming the victim
of "dock talk." I think every
bass fisherman has fallen into this trap.
I used to love to sit around the boat ramp,
cafe, tackle store, or tournament registration
and swap stories. But it didn’t take
me long to figure out that the guys with
the best stories at registration usually
came in with the smallest stringers and
the biggest excuses. Listening to those
tall tales, I have fallen victim to changing
my focus from what I "knew" worked
to try something that I "heard" was
working great for the other fisherman.
I can’t say that it never helps,
but most of the time I regretted changing
my game plan after hearing those stories.
Now when I go to the tackle store, I buy
what I need and leave. At registration,
I register, and then I go work on my tackle
and get away from the crowd. I realized
that I would not become the best fisherman
God created me to be if I spent all my
time doing what the "others" were
doing. To be a true champion, you have
to step out of the crowd to achieve your
higher level of focus.
I run a fulltime guide service on Lake
Sam Rayburn and am the proprietor of the
Backlash Lodge. I would love to help you
set up your next trip to the lake. I offer
package deals that include both fishing
and lodging. I also offer enhanced lake
maps of Lake Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend
that locate the GPS coordinates and intricacies
of my favorite and most fruitful spots.
Feel free to call me at home, or email
me off my web site, for more information
on the maps or on setting up a trip. I’m
also available for tournament preparation.
The Backlash Lodge can accommodate one
to twelve people, with both daily and weekly
rates. To find out more about my services,
or to see my weekly fishing report, go
to my website at www.rayburncountry.com.
My home phone number is (936) 637-2266
or cell- (936) 676-6739.
Happy fishing and God Bless!