If you are looking to take your fishing to the next level, then fishing the Bassmaster Open or the Costa FLW tour is a logical move. This is a move that I made personally last season, and it ended up being a great learning experience. I’m hoping that as you read this article you gain a knowledge base that will build your confidence as a fisherman, so that you have a solid groundwork before entering these tournaments.
Is This Your First Bass Fishing Tournament?
So you want to fish the opens? If you are looking to take your fishing to the next level, then fishing the Bassmaster Open or the Costa FLW tour is a logical move. This is a move that I made personally last season, and it ended up being a great learning experience. I’m hoping that as you read this article you gain a knowledge base that will build your confidence as a fisherman, so that you have a solid groundwork before entering your first bass fishing tournament.
My first piece of advice is to not think about the other anglers. There are a lot of seasoned pro’s at these events and it’s best to keep your focus off of that. You also can’t think you are going to go out there and fish out the Shaw Grigsbys and Gerald Swindles. Instead, do as they do and keep your priority solely on that green little fish, that we all hope is far from little during weigh in.
My second, but equally important piece of advice is to be prepared for everything; have the proper boat tools with you, have spare parts with you (props, oils, fuses etc..). Do not experiment on tournament days with anything; do not try new hooks, do not try new knots, do not try anything new, fish the way you are accustomed to fishing, be confident in your technique. And in continuation, use that technique during practice. Those few days may make or break you. When looking for practice space remember that when you put 200 good anglers on a body of water for a week the high percentage areas will inevitably get over-worked. The fish become pressured, they become weary, and quite frankly a lot of them just get sick and tired of seeing bass boats wrapped in bright colors driving through their living rooms. Which brings me to this, if you want to have success you need to use what you already know, plant yourself in a good spots during practice, and be mentally ready for the challenge that finicky bass bring you.
The importance of practice can not be stressed enough. First day of practice, drive around the entire lake and look with your eyes. I know it sounds simple, but you will be surprised at how many anglers overlook doing this. Find docks, drive up to them, and look at how deep it is under those docks? Take notes on these findings. Then as you move on find rocks, floating docks, creeks, little bays, bridges, everything and anything that may have potential. On day two of practice use your electronics to find off shore structure. Fish a little bit but try to not catch too many fish, instead catch enough fish to get a feel for those designated areas. Day three of practice is where you build your game plan, and for the love of eight pounders cover your hooks or cut them off. There is nothing worse than catching a big fish out of a spot you were going to fish in less then twenty-four hours. After practice is over you should hope to have an alphabet of plans, not just A B or C. Do not listen to “dock talk”, guys coming to the ramp talking about how they are on the big ones or how they spent the whole day shaking off six pounders. These guys are like sharks, they can kind of see it in yours eyes that it is your first time and they are just trying to rattle you. Some of the classic lines include, “oh you only had a couple keepers today? Really? I caught like fifty on (insert some ridiculous lure here), you should try that tomorrow.” Trust your instincts and remember, no tournament was ever won in practice, and that is why you save your catches for when it counts.
Then on days one and two is when you will understand why it was important to have multiple areas to fish. Remember that it’s inevitable that you will pull up to one of your spots and see boats on tops of boats there. The more obvious the spot, the more boats that are going to be sitting on it. This is why it is extremely important to have multiple areas that you have confidence in. Do not get married to a certain area or way of fishing, especially if it is not working. Remember to let the day and conditions dictate where and how you fish, follow your instincts.
Finesse tactics play a big role in open tournaments because of the heavy fishing pressure. Do not feel discouraged, you are more skilled and equipped than you think. It’s what you have been doing since you were a kid. Do not put too much pressure on yourself, it will just make you fish too tight and too fast. Concentrate on your cast and do what feels natural. Hope to see you out for your first bass fishing tournament in the near future, look for me at the ramp. I’ll be the guy telling the story about the 50 fish I caught, with the ridiculous lure.