Before I start on what admittedly is a bit of a ramble…
Let’s start with this. It’s worth another look, if you haven’t already seen it.
As a former player and now a coach, this strikes a cord. As a tournament bass fisherman it also applies. Practice is something we can all relate to. When it comes to fishing, whether you are talking about tournament fishing or not, practice is one of those topics that we all tend to handle differently. We all bring a personalized approach to it. We all stumble through most of it and mostly waste a bunch of time in an effort to make us feel like we are trying or “working hard”.
Time on the water
One thing practice should not be confused with is time on the water. Spending time fishing is not the same as intentional practice. Time on the water that is focused with specific tactics and locations for varying conditions is more in line with what practice should be about.
So in practicing for an event, what is the best way to prepare? That “event” might be a tournament or it might be that next important outing where you are taking somebody out fishing and want to show them a good time. Doesn’t matter. It’s “game day” for you either way. Here’s two different mindsets. Which one do you more closely relate to?
You hit the water with an array of rods, rigged with an arsenal of baits. You’ve got something for deep water, something for shallow water, a topwater bait, and everything in between. Most of your time is spent on “getting ready” by deciding which color to use and which rod/reel combo to use for each bait. Your main goal is to put a lot of time into it. You are going to muscle through this outing. Stick with it. Until you find the mother lode. Out on the water you try a little bit of everything in a bunch of different places. Some are productive, others are not. The operative word is “what”. You focus on what to use and what type of water, or what spots should you fish. You use the feedback to start making conclusions. Things like, they like this bait, they like this color and they seem to be this deep. The fish are on this spot. You carry these conclusions into the actual event.
You prepare intentionally. In a focused way. You are going to fish this area and try to understand how the fish are using that area. Is it a feeding area? Is it a resting area? If they want to feed, does it matter how you present a lure? Is it simply a matter of which lure is most efficient? What lure can you present in a way that fish will eat it? If it’s a resting area, can those fish be provoked into striking? You focus on the whys and the hows. You pick a certain set of conditions whether it be windy or calm, cloudy or sunny, and you intentionally go out and try to understand the whys. Only after you have some insight into the whys can you get into the wheres.
The reality of it
Most of us spend most of the time in mindset 1. It’s easy. Relaxing. It’s produced some fun days. Operating in mindset 1 is what most people associate with fishing. But it shouldn’t be confused with practice. It’s confusing shooting basketballs with understanding how to break a full court press with thousands of screaming fans in the stands. It’s equating putt-putt golf to playing on a difficult course in a howling wind. In one scenario you stumble onto things and make generalizations based off of your time of the water. In scenario two you plan your time on the water to focus on a specific thing you want to better understand.
How do you like to “practice”? Leave a comment. Let us hear from you.