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Focusing on tomorrow’s stars

Focusing on tomorrow’s stars

When you read this I will be out practicing on Lake Conroe getting ready for the biggest week in bass fishing. We’ve got a real diverse and talented field that likely will make this another great GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. And while there will be considerable media focus on Classic veterans and local favorites, I’d like to turn some of that spotlight on scholastic fishing, the fastest growing segments of our sport. I think it’s a fitting topic at this Classic because Southeast Texas is a real hot bed for high school and collegiate fishing teams. There …

The power of the wacky rig

It must seem out of place for me to be writing about a slow, methodical technique. When you’ve built your reputation as a power fisherman who covers water and fishes fast, it hardly seems fitting for me to talk about something at the opposite end of the technique spectrum. But I’ve learned the hard way. Wacky rigging is an important tool that can be so darn deadly in a variety of situations. Like now. Fish are beginning to spawn in the southern half of the country and bass are more fickle about lure presentations than any other time of the year. …

It’s time to fish for big ‘uns

It’s big bass time across the country, and now is when it’s great to be on the water. We’ve had a warmer-than-average winter and spring is popping earlier than normal. I’m hearing about spawning bass in Texas, Alabama and most of the southern states. In fact, we’ve got a lot of open water in northern states and bass are already showing signs of prespawn activity. When approaching this time of the year you have to remember everything is focused around the spawn. This isn’t so much about going to your favorite lake and throwing your favorite baits. To catch big bass, …
The pre-practice debate

The pre-practice debate

The results of the Bassmaster Elite season opener on Cherokee Lake, Tenn., revive the often debated question as to whether pre-practice on a lake is beneficial. Historically, it isn’t worth it to go well in advance of an Elite Series tournament because the off-limit period occurs well in advance of the event and conditions change drastically before competition begins. I’ve been an opponent of fishing lakes during the pre-practice period. You’re usually dealing with fluctuating water levels, differences in seasonal patterns, weather conditions, etc., all of which can be drastically different when the competition begins. On top of that, you can …

Tough conditions? Deal with it

I have to admit I have the jitters as I compile this blog prior to the start of the Bassmaster Elite on Cherokee Lake. Although this is the start of my 27th season, the pre-tournament jitters are always the same. Especially now. We can usually get those jitters out of the way at the Bassmaster Classic, but this year we’re kicking off the season before the Classic. Every man in this field knows the importance of a good start to the season, and the tournament here on Cherokee is really going to make us step it up a notch. That’s because …

Mental toughness separates winners and losers

We have an epic Super Bowl coming this weekend that pits two great teams – the best offense against the best defense in the NFL. I really expect a great game, but as always, one team will persevere, and it will be the one that wins the mental battle. I point this out because the 2017 Bassmaster Elite Series kicks off next week on Cherokee Lake in Tennessee pitting dozens of great fishermen against each other. At stake in the season-long battle are the coveted Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year title and a 2018 Bassmaster Classic invitation. And like the Super …
Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

Paper maps and technology give anglers an edge

There’s no question that today’s electronics and GPS mapping programs are good. I mean, real good. However, there are other tools that belong in anglers’ fish-finding strategies. Like, I still use paper maps and utilize satellite imagery even when I’m on the water. In my mind, it’s important to use every mapping tool available to me. I know some anglers may think paper maps are antiquated and seemingly useless when they have detailed maps on their graph screens. But that’s not the case. They remain critical to my studies because they give me a broader overview of what a system has …

Save time, be prepared

My previous blogs discussed the importance of restocking and organizing tackle during the offseason, but carrying sufficient boat gear can make you more efficient on the water. I’m probably over the top with everything I carry and some of the items have never been used. On the other hand, I want to be prepared to fix any boat or tackle problem that might occur that can save me time. We have excellent service crews at the national tournamentsm, but I never want to take the time to go back to the launch for them to fix a problem if I can …
A great time to learn

A great time to learn

This is the season of learning for all anglers interested in bass fishing. I say that as I kick off my travel schedule to do seminars and sport shows around the country before the Bassmaster Elite season kicks off next month. It began this week when I flew to Bass Pro Shops in Destin, Fla., for a store managers’ workshop program. It’s an annual program that Bass Pro Shops puts together to educate sales people on new products. The workshop lasts a week and is quite comprehensive. Tackle companies visit Destin to spend time with the managers, teaching them the ins …
Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

Are you properly ‘hooked’ up?

As I explained last week, now is a good time to inventory your terminal tackle needs and get organized. We covered sinkers and what I carry in the previous blog, so today I’ll the most critical terminal gear I carry - hooks. It’s vital that I have precisely the right hook because I make adjustments all the time, especially when conditions change and call for a different presentation. You can use any utility box for hooks, but I’ve found the Plano FTO Elite Terminal Tackle Organizer to be ideal for a number of reasons. First, it has 26 fixed compartments rather …