One common trait among the top anglers in our sport is they maintain a cool head under duress when things don’t go well on the water.
In other words, they don’t spin out when the wheels come off their day on the water.
It’s an admirable attribute and one that is critical to being a successful angler.
I know all about spinning out; I probably have done it as much as anyone. But I’ve learned from those experiences and am here to help you stay grounded when bad stuff happens.
Self-imposed pressure often is the culprit. It manifests near the end of a season when you’re trying to qualify for the Elites through the Bassmaster Opens, get into the Bassmaster Classic or even trying to win the Angler of Year for a local bass club.
One bad spin out can ruin an entire season.
So how can an angler avoid it? Here’s what works for me:
Be organized: Especially in the boat. Know where every bit of your tackle is because there’s a good chance that what you thought the fish would bite may not hold up, especially in a multiday tournament.
The last thing you need is to waste time jerking gear out of storage boxes looking for something you want to try and can’t find it. You give up, make another cast with something else then go back to digging through the box trying to find that other lure or setup.
One solution is to keep several insurance rods rigged. They all might not be on the deck, but they’re ready in the rod locker.
Also, label all of your tackleboxes and keep everything in the same spot so you always know where to reach.
Be prepared: I carry a spare trolling motor and outboard motor prop in case something goes wrong. If it happens, you can make a quick repair and get back to fishing. I carry extra sunglasses, a phone charger, first aid kit for removing hooks from skin, wire cutters and other critical items that I might need when something unexpected occurs.
Get in a routine: When I go to a tournament I want to get there a day ahead of practice. I like to check into my room or rental house, know where I’m parking the boat each night, buy groceries, locate convenience stores and gas stations and drive around to locate the boat ramps I plan to use.
When I get up that next morning, I have all I need and know exactly where I’m going. My mind is entirely focused on the fishing.
Be deliberate: The adrenaline is flowing that first morning, and we’re all eager to make that first cast. But take a deep breath and make a good first cast that isn’t going to blow up your baitcaster. Don’t try to catch a limit on that first cast and avoid losing your cool if something does go awry.
Avoid being too confident: If you figure something out in practice, don’t go around boasting about it. You’re just putting more pressure on yourself.
Sure, you may have caught them well in practice, but tournament days can be different. Develop multiple patterns in practice, look ahead at the weather and how it might impact the coming days, and think about where the fish might move to. If your pattern fizzles, you will have something to fall back onto instead of running around the lake trying to make something happen that may not be working.