UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Smith Mountain Lake

Making the Switch

Making the Switch
Eric Jackson

(The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)


As a rookie on the Walmart FLW Tour this season, I’m still learning what’s involved in preparing for professional-level bass tournaments, but I’m no slouch when it comes to competing on the world stage.

For those of you who don’t know me, I recently made the switch from the competitive kayak world to professional bass fishing. To learn more, check out this article that ran on FLWFishing.com a few weeks ago.

After I signed up for the Walmart FLW Tour, Tournament Director Bill Taylor sent me a confirmation email and a message: “Congratulations, you are a professional fisherman.”

Maybe so, but my goal is not just to compete. I want to win. So that day, I immediately turned my attention to learning how to be a winning professional fisherman and how to be one of the top guys, while starting at the very bottom of the barrel.

Tournament bass fishing, especially at the FLW Tour level, is contrasting to my professional kayaking experience in that it is harder to dominate and win every event in fishing. My longest kayaking win streak in major national and North American competition was 11 straight. In fishing, nobody has won that many events in a row. It’s just too competitive with too many variables to control.

This is a GOOD thing!

In kayaking, rookies can’t show up and think they even have a chance to win if they are competing against top talent. In fishing, everyone has a chance of winning at every tournament. The best anglers are still more likely to win, but even I have a chance of winning in my first season.

That in mind, I’ve come up with an approach to improving my chances of winning every day, as I attempt to climb the ranks toward being Angler of the Year sometime in the future. Perhaps it can help you at whatever level of tournament fishing you compete.

  • I try to learn from the best and discover their training and tournament strategies.
  • I’m also developing my own set of beliefs about how to approach each tournament in training and competition.
  • I listen to any fishermen willing to provide insight on what they believe is the right approach and try to learn/memorize their approaches, but I don’t take them at face value. Every fisherman on Tour has a strength, but like me, they all have weaknesses as well. Recognizing the difference and trying to only absorb what really works is perhaps the biggest challenge I face today as an angler, and I imagine it’s a challenge that every angler faces.
  • I write down my own strategy, possible tactics, equipment needs, daily schedules and the “if/then” scenarios that I might face. This in an evolving document based on the tournament that’s in front of me, and it forces me to really think about what I’m about to do each day.

Having the right lure, tackle, presentation and technique are keys to success on the water, and it would be quite silly of me to think that I actually do bring the best of each of those key things to the table, given the level of competition on Tour. However, I do believe I can bring some of them, and am not far off on others. My goal is to discover where I am dropping the ball as quickly as possible, and to be honest with my self about it.

I’m also quite confident by nature. In fact, I’ve found that having confidence is quite easy for me at each tournament takeoff. It’s not so easy when, with just three hours left to fish, you only have four small fish in the livewell, as was the case for me on day one at Okeechobee. Overcoming situations like that will take time and experience, but it won’t affect my overall confidence.

I believe that you rarely succeed at anything unless you believe you are going to. Every cast should be a fish-catching cast, and if you make 100 casts without a bite, you should still make the 101st cast as if it is going to catch your kicker. I’m good at that. It seems to come naturally. That’s a good foundation for my fishing career. Where will this approach take me on the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour? Time will tell!

:)

EJ

Eric Jackson

Tags: eric-jackson  blog 

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