We all dream of finding unfished bass and having honeyholes to ourselves. But sometimes reality is just the opposite.
At large tournaments with limited amounts of quality fishing areas, boats often pile together in community spots. At the recent Sturgeon Bay Open in northern Wisconsin, for example, teammate Mark Fisher and I found ourselves jockeying for position atop shallow rocky structure with well over 100 other boats. Non-tournament anglers, too, often face intense fishing pressure on prime locations.
In my book, patience is key to success in the pack. When people around us catch fish, it’s natural to grab everything in our tackle boxes and throw baits willy-nilly, or chase wildly around, following the bites.
But you’ll boat more bass if you hunker down in the best spot possible, focus on your own fish-catching abilities, and not be concerned or frustrated by what goes on around you.
Company on the water? Focus on your own fishing—don’t be distracted by boats around you.
Silence is also golden. With all the pressure and commotion, bass may be more than a little gun-shy. So make your corner of the crowd a safe haven. Be quiet, shut down your electronics, and eliminate any unnecessary movement in the boat.
In tactical terms, fish slower. Finesse a softbait like the 4-inch Trigger X Probe Worm, which is thin, buoyant and oozing with pheromones. Drag a tube. Slowly swim a marabou jig. You get the idea.
And, while you don’t want to sling a different bait on every cast, it does pay to explore your options. You’re not covering water, so focus on experimenting. Try a slightly different color bait, or a smaller size in the same color. Make subtle adjustments until you get the big bites you came for.
Finally, show your fellow anglers the same courtesy and respect you expect from them. There’s always a few bad apples in any crowd, of course, so when someone rubs you the wrong way, take in in stride. Don’t lose your cool or let the guy get inside your head. Just focus on your fishing. And remember, nothing soothes your neighbors or rattles the competition like a smile.
Editor’s Note: For more tips and tournament news from NAFC Member Scott Bonnema, visit ClassicBass.com.