UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2015 - Lake Sinclair

The big-fish pattern

Pro Bruce Samson shows off his first-place trophy after winning the 2002 RCL Championship.

I spent most of this summer and fall working on a walleye fishing book called Walleye Trolling that I co-authored and published with Lake Erie guide Capt. Ross Robertson. In the book, I wrote a short summary of professional walleye angler Bruce Samson's tournament strategies for targeting big fish. By "big fish," I mean the biggest fish in the lake hosting the tournament - the type of fish that will win tournaments when you catch them, but that often cause you to strike out in competition. What I love about Bruce's strategies is that he's got no problem with bombing at a tournament every now and then, so long as he knows he gave himself the chance to win it by targeting big fish. Winning one tournament a season, to him, is more important than finishing in the money at every tournament (it often pays just as well too). Probably the most interesting lesson he shares about chasing big fish, and it applies to bass, crappies, muskies and other species too, is in how he puts together the pieces of the puzzle during practice. Bruce doesn't just show up and fish awhile, hoping to stumble onto a big fish. He starts right away targeting big walleyes, usually in the types of areas others aren't fishing. When everyone's catching keepers in deep water, he's fishing the bank for a kicker. Or when everyone is targeting rock structure, he's over in the weeds. From there, it's a matter of finding and analyzing clues, and they don't have to be big ones. Samson says catching one big fish is a pattern. It's not a good pattern, but it reveals something to him. Catching two big fish is reassuring. Catching four or five is a great pattern. That's right, catching only four or five big fish in an entire practice can lead to a great tournament pattern, even in multiple-day events when anglers can bring in 15 fish in three days. Expecting to turn four or five fish in a week of practice into 15 fish in just three days, with pressure on the line, is pretty scary for many anglers. But not Samson. He knows that those practice fish are his clues to the winning fish, not the top-20 fish or the top-10 fish. And when he can turn those clues into a big stringer, his odds of hitting the podium go way up. His odds of bombing big time are high too. That's the cost of fishing with a zero-or-hero mentality.

Tags: blog  curtis-niedermier 


2015 BFL Postseason Begins

All of the 2015 regular-season events have concluded, including the two-day Super Tournaments. Season-long point standings are now final. That means 24 divisional Anglers of the Year have earned their $1,000 AOY awards, and their Co-angler of the Year counterparts have earned $500 apiece. But more importantly, the fields have been set for FLW’s marathon run of BFL Regional Championships. READ MORE »


Bass Fishing 101: Choose the Right Jig

The basic jig is one of the most versatile baits that a bass angler can have in their arsenal. It can be fished just about any way, in any depth, and around most types of cover and structure. READ MORE »


How to Catch Big Fall Smallmouths

What's the best time of year to catch lots of big smallmouth bass in the northern United States? Well, get ready, because it's going to happen in the next couple of weeks and continue until the lakes freeze solid. And the best part about it is that often times you will have entire lakes to yourself since most anglers switch gears and start their hunting seasons, leaving the lakes almost completely void of pressure. READ MORE »


5 Autumn Patterns that are Hot Now

Want to cash in on autumn’s bass fishing bounty? Of course you do. But first, you need to consider that bass are in transition as temperatures fall and shad move, most often from deep to shallow. READ MORE »


Weekend Angler: Off the Water Practice

Of all the excuses I hear fisherman use when it comes to fishing tournaments, the one that intrigues me the most is, "I haven't been out that much, so I couldn't practice." There is no substitute for time on the water – that is not debatable – but there are things that can be done to assist you in your weekend efforts if you can’t spend every free moment on the water. Below you’ll find just a few tips to hopefully help you become a more efficient angler. READ MORE »


The Good Ol' Days

It’s hard to believe that the dog days of summer will soon be coming to an end, seen in the shortening of days and frigid mornings. For some, fall means hanging up the rods and picking up the bow or shotgun in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons – for others, falling water temps signify hungry bass stocking up for the descending metabolism of winter. READ MORE »


Frog fishing 101

People often ask me about what frog I use and when. It’s a good question, because there are many, many frogs available to anglers these days. The answer depends on the situation you expect to encounter. READ MORE »


A Fisherman or Fisher of Men?

It was a series of ups, downs and way downs, though I ended my season with a nice check at the Potomac River. I thought squaring off against a prehistoric reptile in its own backyard was tough, but I have to tell you that fishing against these FLW guys was tougher than dealing with alligators back home. READ MORE »


Rhinos, Bass and Great White Sharks

Tournament fishing in South Africa is pretty solid, with about 500 serious tournament anglers in the country. There are many more recreational anglers in the region too. READ MORE »


Getting Whipped by the Young Bucks

It really goes against all logic, but logic flew out the window again at the recent Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Take the example of Brandon Cobb and Dion Hibdon. Cobb, at the tender age of 25, not only qualified for the Cup (the most difficult championship in the world to qualify for, much less win), but he finished in the top five. READ MORE »


SOAR Derby a Success

Be it children or adults, we all want others to be able to experience the pure joy that we feel when hooked up and battling a fish that we have worked so hard for. READ MORE »


Schenck to Retire

There were tears. There were moments of silence. And then there was a great applause. That was the reaction from the crowd at Bank of the Ozarks Arena, when Indiana veteran Shad Schenck announced his retirement from professional fishing near the end of the day-two weigh-in at the Forrest Wood Cup. Schenck cited the demand of balancing full-time work life with full-time fishing life as one of his primary reasons for stepping down from the Tour. READ MORE »


A Day with the Hawks

About 1,400 miles separate Roy Hawk’s home in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., from Hot Springs, Ark., but Hawk’s path to get to Hot Springs for the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup has stretched far beyond that. The Western pro’s FLW profile shows a career of ups and downs, of trials and errors. He’s fished a mishmash of tournaments, from two seasons on the Walmart FLW Tour to Bass Fishing League qualifiers in the South to Rayovac FLW Series events in the middle of the nation to dozens of tournaments in the Western states. Generally, he’s had good success. In 77 FLW appearances, Hawk has earned almost $400,000. He won back-to-back Western Division Rayovac events in 2009. That’s why out West, Hawk is known as one of the region’s best. Elsewhere, however, he’s not yet had that keystone win that’s needed to make his a household name in the bass fishing industry. Maybe that all changes this week. READ MORE »


Cup Practice Begins

Welcome to Hot Springs, Ark., and the Forrest Wood Cup. Today, Sunday, marks the start of the official three-day practice period for the 2015 Cup. Right now is when pros start to piece together the puzzle that is summertime fishing on Lake Ouachita. To find out how the pros are preparing for this championship event, I head down to Brady Mountain Resort way too early in the morning to pester a few of them before they back their boats into the lake. I find out that for some pros, this morning is the first time they’ve launched a boat in Lake Ouachita this season – or ever. For others that made pre-practice trips, it’s the first time they’ve seen the lake since it went off limits earlier this month. READ MORE »


British BBQ Star Heading to Hot Springs

Now, a little barbecue and a little bass fishing are nothing out of the ordinary for Southern folks in the summertime. But Shea’s not Southern. He’s not even American. Shea is one of the premier British competitive cookers, and he’s traveling with his crew – the British Bulldogs BBQ team – across the Atlantic to test his slow-cooking mettle against some of the very best pitmasters in an event sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS). READ MORE »


Shifting Gears

I am stripping the big line off the Halos and re-spooling with 6- and 8-pound-test Berkley flouro, and reflecting on how much fun it was catching all those fish with all these relatively new baits, how hard some of the strikes were and how easy it was catching fish on baits that they haven't seen before. Well, that's all over now – back to smallmouth fishing. READ MORE »


Ouachita Pre-Practice Report

Lake Ouachita officially went off-limits to all Forrest Wood Cup competitors on Monday, Aug. 3. That means that from now until the official three-day practice period opens on Aug. 16, no Cup competitor can be on the lake and competitors may only gather information about Ouachita from publicly available resources and fellow qualifiers. READ MORE »


Do You Really Need So Much Stuff?

Lures and clothes have a lot in common. Just like clothing evolves and new styles come out and old styles come back, so goes fishing lures. The difference between the two, however, is that you can outgrow your old jeans, but you can never get rid of your old baits. READ MORE »


How to Fish the Prop Bee

The Brian’s Bees Prop Bee isn’t the most popular topwater bait on the Walmart FLW Tour. Rather, it’s more limited in scope. It’s a niche bait. When a tournament falls into the window where the Prop Bee shines, however, it’s one of those “you-gotta-have-it” baits that is practically a shoo-in to produce a few top-10 finishes. READ MORE »


Never Miss a Bass Again

Do you ever listen at the weigh-in at how many guys talk about all the fish they missed? I can’t accept that it’s part of the job at hand. It’s one of my pet peeves. Most of us would do much better if we would just ask the simple question “why?” In prefishing we have already done most of the hard work. During the tournament, a missed fish can’t be accepted. I consider it a good tournament when I come back to the ramp with no missed fish, regardless of my finish. How does that happen? It starts way before the tournament. READ MORE »