Lakecaster Online

FOCUSED ON SUCCESS
By JEFF BUCHANAN

 

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!

JEFF BUCHANAN

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