In the world of bass fishing anglers describe fish in several different ways. Smaller fish are known as dinks, knot heads or what Major League Fishing (MLF) Pros call non-scoreable bass (fish that don’t weigh enough to count). Big fish are referred to as a giant, hawg, big ol’ pig, big momma, or a tush hawg. I’m sure there are other names anglers use that are not printable or appropriate for this article. When anglers lose a big bass sometimes there are expletives used to express their frustrations. It may take some anglers hours, days or even weeks to get over losing a big ol’ pig! Some will even seek professional therapy.
But one thing that has frustrated me this season, is the fact that I catch quality bass during my practice days and then when tournament day rolls around, they get smaller. Let me set this up for you. During practice you go out trying to find as many schools of fish as you can. The more schools you find, the more options you have on tournament day especially if it’s a multi-day event. With most of the lakes having higher than normal water levels this summer, flooded brush has been a main target for me and other anglers. There’s just something awesome about catching bass out of flooded bushes. Now when it comes to fishing this type of cover, you can expect to lose a few fish because it’s almost impossible to get every bass out of the bushes but it’s a great technique for catching a 20-pound stringer. Big bass tend to migrate into the shallow water as the lake rises. Why? Because with rising water it offers more things for bream and baitfish to feed on like frogs, bugs, worms or crawfish. Anytime the smaller fish pull up, the bass will surely follow and take advantage of some great feeding opportunities.
Let’s gets back to my frustration of catching smaller fish on tournament day. I really don’t have an answer for this, but some guys will say “Well you shouldn’t be catching or sticking fish in practice.” My general practice habits include catching one two in an area to check the size that are there, then either moving or covering up or removing my hook completely and going to a screw lock in order to shake fish off. This year, that practice has not paid off! Three events this year I have been on quality fish with the potential to catch 16 pounds or more in which 3 and 4 pounders turned into 2 pounders basically overnight. But if there’s one thing, I will give myself credit for is sticking to my game plan. Now some will say that was my problem; that I did not adjust. This is not true as I did make changes from baits to presentations. But there are some days you just have to weed through a few smaller bass in order to catch a good one.
To wrap this up, one thing is clear, you can’t win tournaments by weighing in a bunch of 2 pounders. You must catch quality fish even if you’re just wanting to cash a check. Size really does matter! I guess the best advice I can offer all tournament anglers is to have a game plan but be prepared to do something different. One big mistake tournament angler’s make is that we get dialed in too much on how we caught fish in practice, and we try and force the fish to bite the same way they did under practice conditions. Be prepared to make adjustments and FISH THE MOMENT! Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget to set the hook!
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