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Going Mental


In the Zone Fishing

Over the years I have read a lot about where to fish and what to use, there are many talented Bass anglers that can give advice about a multitude of subjects.  We all owe thanks to fellow anglers, magazines, television shows and various instructional videos. We all posses the best equipment money can buy, sensetive rods and line, smooth reels, hypodermic needle sharp hooks, fast and quiet boats, sonar units with side-finders and how much better have we become? Have our tournament weights skyrocketed? With all of this information and technolgy how come we fail more than we succed, one “reason” (excuse) is all the educated fishing pressure. Another favorite “reason” (excuse) is the weather pattern at the time we are fishing. We basically share the same excuses with every Bass fisherman from the beginning of time, if we are unsuccesful we blame it on something and usauslly we are to blame.
The first step to becoming a good Bassfisherman is to have an interest in catchting Bass, kinda makes sense right. So we start watching Roland Martin and practicing our “HEY SON’S”. Then we start imatateing every thing they do or use most of which is wronge for us from the beginning . We now have a bunch of equipment that is suppose to work, and a stack of magazines and books, we are all ready to catch big limits of Bass. Here we go out the door early in the morning ready for success the primal urge to conquer the Bass and nature, as we drive to the lake our “false confidence” seems unshakeable . In the first hour we try all the recommended methods for catching Bass with all the hot lures and we start to think about the weather the lack of clouds, then our stomachs start to growl our mouth is dry our mind starts to wander, we start to think about everything other than Bass fishing.

Tackle & Equipment

At hours three and four we finally get a hit and now our mental breakdown is complete we miss the fish and do not recall where we were fishing and what we were doing , dejected we finish off the morning with a run through our tackle box for the thirty-fifth time and go to the next great spot. If it is a tournament we sulk dejected our emotional and mental rollercoaster is heading down faster and further than any magazine or television pro has prepared us for as people weigh in bag after bag of fish you ponder what happen and to add to your confusion reach out to the successful to find out what they were doing and what you should have been doing, unfortunately their success has caused them to forget some of the key things they did during their temporary reign of success.
The afternoon brings with it the reality that you now have only four hours to catch up, so we start to hurry up we make too many moves , we fish to fast and everything seems to go to fast, every glance at the clock brings heartache and the reality of another hour gone by. It would seem that as slow as the morning went that’s how fast the afternoon went. A soccer coach and trainer I know told me whenever things get bad and our rhythm is out of control slow down, because the only thing that happens when you go fast and things are bad is bad things happen faster, so take a deep breath and get back your rhythm and focus. But back to our dashed hopes and broken spirit, at the afternoon weigh in were another temporary champion is crowned and we return to the drawing board, what went wrong? The long packing up followed by the long ride home that did not seem that far in the optimism of the morning. Was it the weather, our equipment, our partner, the other fishermen, or maybe I should take up an easy sport like golf? Does this sound familiar?
As long as man has been fishing, we will always find better tools to do the job, our equipment excels, our mind swells, and we still fail as many times as we succeed, why? Can we ever own enough equipment or possess enough knowledge? I believe the best stringer hasn’t been caught yet and the best bass fisherman hasn’t been born yet!!! What is missing from the big picture? First we have a desire to succeed and because of that desire there become two groups of fisherman those who would fish for anything from marbles to money and fish whether there was a tournament or not and those that want to win to beat others, through the beating of others the hope to master themselves, usually these people although at times successful leave bass fishing in pursuit of other means of glory. As we hunger for knowledge to catch more Bass and we gain more experience we learn that our success has more to do with our attitude than anything else, in one of the greatest books ever written about bass fishing “100 years of bass fishing” by Dave Hawk the opening suggests that our attitude and mindset must be mastered, and in order to do this we must eliminate all sources of distraction and become one with nature. This is the only purpose good equipment has in fishing it eliminates distractions, and once we have become knowledgeable and technically perfect this eliminates the other distractions. This means our casting has to become like walking, when was the last time you forgot or had to think about how to walk, that’s because we practiced walking so much starting out slowly and becoming so good at it that we no longer must think about it, you should cast this way visualize the target and you make the cast. In any discipline you must first master forms, they are to say the least boring, until you focus and get into the rhythm and put the effort into performing them perfect, casting should be done this way. Practice every day you want your casts to seem like the come from nature itself, listen to sounds of the wind, the water and the noise in the silence. Nature can and does talk to us and it can hear every arrogant word we have ever uttered, and it can feel our trying to tune into it.

Once we have mastered our casting and technical aspects of the sport, we must then work on something that has up to recently evaded me. A few years ago some of the long time bass fishermen in my bass club would remember chasing after Phil Uruburu year after year, Phil was a superb bass fishermen, duck hunter, deer hunter, and outdoorsman, and I had the good fortune to fish with him and learn a whole lot about a lot of subjects from him. After many of his tournament wins, I would wonder what it was that he did that made the difference between his success and my lack of success. We both fished the same way on the outside, I could cast and he could cast, I fished efficiently and he fished efficiently. What he had you cannot get in any catalogue or fishing magazine, what he had was a deep understanding of all that nature was and not just the Bass, he had intuition and rhythm he knew when to zig and when to zag! With this he also was very open to listening and being confident in his intuition, something that we all must work on. All around us the mechanized and technical world rushes by making all kinds of demands on us, ironically most of us think all week about winning the big tournament while were at work and then after a bad hour of fishing start thinking about what we have to do at work. A couple of years later along came a fisherman who never ever thought about failure, Neil Destefano would pick peoples brains and then improve on the original. But most importantly he always visualized success, in the morning hours before a tournament he would be in his boat laying on the floor out of the way seeing that first to the boat dock and that first strike. Neil is the most positive thinker I have ever fished with, if he has twenty pounds in the well, he knows he can cull out to twenty-four pounds. You may ask why I am mentioning two past members and anglers of the year, well that is because the lesson learned from both of them is a simple one master yourself, learn your spirit, observe and eliminate all distractions.
This finally brings us to the conclusion of this article. I hope the conclusion is not by any means the end of your thinking about improving the mental aspects of your bass fishing. In closing I will tell you that the biggest difference in this year and previous years has been my opening up to my intuition and taking a step back and feeling what is going on, I try to enter each day on the water not as a thief, or conqueror but as a part of the big picture one with nature. Remember to be as confident on the last cast as you were on the first, play the math game eight hours I need five bites, that’s less than one bite per hour. Work on your listening skills take walks in the woods and listen to a world that has become as strange to most of us as going to the moon. Eliminate as many distractions as possible and always keep a positive attitude. Remember the story of the chief of a tribe and his hunting guide. The chiefs hunting guide always had a habit of saying that is good, despite something bad happening. One day while hunting the guide accidentally hit the chief in the hand with an arrow causing the chief to lose two fingers, and as usual the guide said this is good. Well the chief did not think so, and he put his guide in prison for life. Some weeks later the chief and his new guide were captured by another tribe who were cannibals, as they were preparing to cook them their chief noticed the chiefs two fingers missing and told his tribe to release them as it was their custom not to eat anything that was not perfect. Upon his return the chief released his guide from prison and said he was sorry after hearing the chief’s story the guide once again said this is a good thing. In amazement the chief asked what was so good about being in prison, to which the guide replied if I were with you they would have killed and eaten me!!! So, we see all is not as it seems. If you like discussing the mental part of fishing, the best collection of books on the subject that has been written yet. These journals can and should be studied and discussed, they also give the reader lists of other though provoking material and unlike other material out there these journals are in the truest sense for the person who has discovered for every answer a thousand questions are spawned.
For information contact “ANGLERS QUEST” RT.1 BOX 916 MONTGOMERY , TX. 77356
I Hope you enjoy the article and I will see you on the water Dan…..