UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Leaving Fish to Find Fish

Leaving Fish to Find Fish
Cory Johnston

“You don’t leave fish to find fish” is one of the few rigid rules of old in tournament bass fishing, but is it still true today?

Veteran pros Larry Nixon and Mark Rose have their own opinions on the matter.

 

Rose: Read the situation and adjust

As one of the sport’s greatest offshore anglers, Rose has learned over the years how to run and gun using electronics and to locate fish that are willing to bite. As a result, he’s more inclined to risk leaving fish to go in search of others that he has a better chance of catching.

Yet, it’s not easy for him to explain when and why to make a move.

“It’s all by feel,” Rose insists.

Starting with a basic understanding of average tournament catch rates helps Rose decide in practice whether he’s on the right quality of fish or if he should keep moving, but it’s the first day of the event that ultimately dictates Rose’s approach.

“Day one is evaluation day,” he says. “It sets the pace and lets me know what I need to catch.”

When Rose likes his chances for a high finish, he often gambles right off the bat, taking advantage of the security blanket of a decent limit.

“I’ll catch five, then switch and throw a big bait to catch one big fish, then leave.”

In tougher conditions, or when he’s catching mostly small fish, Rose’s first instinct is to try to trigger the bigger fish in a school.

Occasionally, this is through trial and error of big-fish lure choices, but more often, it’s a matter of firing ’em up.

“When I can’t catch fish that I know are there, I try to figure out why. Sometimes all I need to do is finesse fish and get one to bite, and it changes things with the whole school.”

However, Rose is quick to point out that if things don’t work out, he’ll be more than happy to pack up camp.

“A tournament fisherman doesn’t have all day; he has eight hours. And there’s a biting school somewhere.”

 

Nixon: Persistence pays

Nixon is a bit more hard-headed than Rose.

After three practice days on the water, if an angler of Nixon’s stature has only located bass in one section of the lake, you can bet he’s going to set up shop there.

His theory is based on the belief that if a tournament pro couldn’t locate multiple productive areas in extra-long practice days, what makes him think he could find one on the fly during competition? If anything, abandoning an area is likely to fill an angler with self-doubt.

“If you find fish in only one area and leave it, immediately your confidence goes down,” the General concludes. As a tournament angler, nothing’s worse than waning confidence. “Sure, if I’ve hammered on the fish for two [competition] days and I’ve run out of fish, I’ll move and go fishing. But, if an area’s big enough, I’ll never leave it.”

Here, it’s impossible to argue with Nixon’s lifelong competitive experience.

“Forty years has proven it to me: If I stay around where the fish are, I’m gonna have a good tournament, and even win one now and then.

“There’s always a way to catch a few fish. It’s usually just a bait change or a timing deal, but there’s always a way.”

Tournament bass fishing presents more variables than any other sport, and as a result, there are dozens of approaches to competitive strategy. When it comes to the question of whether to wait it out with a known population of fish or move on in search of greener pastures, the situation might dictate the decision, but ultimately it’s an angler’s willingness – or lack thereof – to start fresh mid-tournament that determines whether or not he’s game to gamble.

 

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