Live now : Sam Rayburn Reservoir - FLW Live Coverage

How to Deal with Dock Talk

How to Deal with Dock Talk
James Niggemeyer

If you fish tournaments or follow tournament fishing, you know about dock talk. It’s the chatter that goes on among bass fishermen during and around tournaments on subjects such as how the fish are biting, what patterns are in play, the weather and just how much of a grind it’s been.

Dock talk can be dangerous. It can lead you astray if you listen to the wrong person. It can hurt your confidence if you hear about someone else really catching ’em doing something different. It can distract you from your game plan and your goals. Dock talk rarely gives you the complete story. There are good kinds of dock talk, but in my opinion that really only applies when you get honest intel from people you really know and trust, which is rare in competition.

I used to have a hard time dealing with dock talk. I’m not saying it doesn’t still trip me up at times, but over the years I’ve spent time with some really good fishermen and learned some valuable lessons on how to deal with it. For instance, when I was getting started, I witnessed some great anglers who, after hearing the dock talk about a supposedly really productive pattern, said stuff like, “Oh, I don’t do that. I’ll catch them a different way if I have to.”

The first time I heard it, I thought, I don’t even think you’re allowed to say that as a full-time professional bass fisherman. I thought you had to be willing to do literally anything to catch fish. I was wrong.

Hearing that response from people I respected really freed me up mentally. I realized that, like them, I could have more success by focusing on the things I do well and have confidence in, rather than paying attention to what the dock talk said I should be doing.

I’ve written about this subject before, but it’s worth repeating: You should take time to learn new techniques and try new baits, but when money is on the line, if you’re not confident in what you’re doing, you’re probably doing something wrong.

These days, I go to great lengths to avoid dock talk. I camp in a truck bed camper just to stay away from all the chatter. In fact, some people say I’m kind of a hermit at a tournament. I’m not trying to be anti-social. I’m just trying to keep focused on doing my job.

The few guys I do talk to are David Williams, Kurt Dove, Matt Reed and Billy McCaghren. I know the type of people they are, and I know I can trust them. They’re good guys. Most of them fish similarly to me, so their input is helpful. Matt likes to fish deep, though, and it’s good for both of us to chat during practice because we’re usually covering different kinds of water. If the fish have just pulled out in numbers, he’ll find them. Or if they’ve just moved up, I’ll find them. It’s a good relationship.

I think a lot of fans assume that when a few pros share information, they’re working together as a team and sharing every detail. That’s not really the case for us.

Working as a team is a new development in pro fishing. It used to be that you didn’t share anything with anybody. Now it’s more common.

I guess I fall into the middle ground. I’m hesitant to reveal too much and not comfortable with the team strategy, but I’ll share a little info with the guys I mentioned – to a point. We don’t share fishing areas or give specific creek names. We might share a general area – the zip code, but not the street address, you could say. Splitting water can be detrimental to two people in some situations. Plus, out of respect, I wouldn’t want to go to a friend’s spot anyway. Now, if one of my friends mentions that the fish are up on a certain type of bank, and I happen to pull into an area where he’s fishing, that’s a little different. Since we’re friends, we can work it out, but my first inclination is always to do the respectful thing and leave.

Respect is important in this sport, and many friendships have been ruined due to a lack of respect. I’m not willing to risk my friendships in that way.

Above all, sharing even a little bit of info comes down to trust. I know I can trust David, Kurt, Matt and Billy. If they tell me something is working, I know it’s the truth, and I know I should give it some consideration.

But that still doesn’t mean I’ll change my plans based on some information they give me. In the end, it’s my career, and my family’s well being that hinges on my performance. I’ve learned over the years that I can’t always catch them the way someone else is catching them, and I rarely gain anything positive from listening to the dock talk. Plus, when I find fish on my own, doing what I’m confident doing, the results are usually better anyway.

Follow James Niggemeyer’s career at JamesNiggemeyer.com.

Tags: bass  fishing  james-niggemeyer  blog 

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

Why You Shouldn’t Second-Guess Your Gut

In tournament fishing, you can beat yourself up for days with the “what if” scenarios that cause you to second-guess your gut. Well, in this case, I guessed wrong. I finished the Lake Champlain event in 145th place. It knocked me all the way down to 60th in points and out of Cup contention. READ MORE »

How to Prep Like a Pro

How to Prep Like a Pro

When it comes to getting ready for a season of tournaments, there are plenty of ways to do it. But, there’s no denying that for most people, being prepared will lead to better performance on the water. READ MORE »

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

More Fishing, More Focus in 2020

People talk a lot about the offseason in professional bass fishing, but when you do this for a living you pretty quickly realize there really isn’t much of an offseason anymore. READ MORE »

New Challenges, New Opportunities

New Challenges, New Opportunities

Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from. READ MORE »

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Bulldog Division Kicks off at Lake Lanier

Perhaps the hottest spotted bass lake in the East, Lanier should be rocking for the Bulldog Division opener. With lots of plump wintertime spotted bass coming to the scale, along with some largemouths, it would be no surprise to see a winning weight in excess of 20 pounds.   READ MORE »

Oklahoma’s Carper Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Florida’s St. John’s River

Oklahoma’s Carper Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Florida’s St. John’s River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PALATKA, FLA. – The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine continued competition Saturday at the St. John’s River in Palatka, Florida – the first time that the Gator Division presented by A.R.E. has opened their season on the St. John’s River – and featured... READ MORE »

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Big Prespawn Potential at Toledo Bend

Toledo Bend is a legendary reservoir that straddles the border between Texas and Louisiana. It spans some 65 miles along the impounded Sabine River, which runs north to south, and sprawls across about 185,000 acres at full pool. Though Toledo Bend has a number of major tributaries along its length, the bulk of the reservoir is its straight, wide-open main-lake span. READ MORE »

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

Choo Choo Division Kicks off at Lake Guntersville

According to pro Casey Martin, who once won a BFL on Guntersville with a whopping 40 pounds, 11 ounces, it’s not unreasonable to expect a mid- or upper 20s bag to win this time. READ MORE »

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

Florida Spawn: Key on Bottom Hardness

According to FLW Pro Circuit angler Tim Frederick, who’s lived in Florida since he was 4 years old, one of the most important factors for successfully locating both spawning and staging bass in the coming weeks is bottom hardness. In most situations, the harder the bottom the better, but there’s more to it than that. READ MORE »

Why I Chose FLW

Why I Chose FLW

My name is Richard Dunham, but most people know me as Dicky D. I currently live in Palm Harbor Florida where I work for the Folsom Corporation, one of the largest fishing distributors in the country. In 2020 I am fishing as a boater in Southern Division of the FLW Series. READ MORE »

Record-Setting Field Opens Phoenix Bass Fishing League:

Record-Setting Field Opens Phoenix Bass Fishing League:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BROOKELAND, TEXAS (Jan. 6, 2020) – The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine opened competition Saturday at the historic Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, and featured a record-setting field size – 230 boaters and 230 co-anglers. The season... READ MORE »

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

Reese’s Lake Baccarac Adventure

With a home base of Clear Lake in California, FLW Pro Circuit pro Jimmy Reese is pretty used to phenomenal fishing. But, until Thanksgiving, he’d never sampled the bass fishing in Mexico. Now he has, thanks to a Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits trip to Lake Baccarac Lodge that turned into the trip of a lifetime and produced some truly outstanding fishing. READ MORE »

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Nixon Ready for Fresh Start

Except 2020 will be different for the General. He’ll miss the season opener on Sam Rayburn and stop No. 2 at the Harris Chain. In fact, he might not get to launch a boat for the 2020 Pro Circuit until stop No. 4 or 5 in April. READ MORE »

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

Review: VMC Tokyo Rig

When the VMC Tokyo Rig first debuted at ICAST in 2018, a lot of folks didn’t know what to make of the weird-looking contraption. Some thought of it as a gimmick. I kind of felt that way at first until some industry friends told me about their success with it. It didn’t take long before I had a few in hand and was ready to take it for a spin. READ MORE »

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Dates for 2020 High School Fishing Season

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Dates for 2020 High School Fishing Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. – Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series... READ MORE »

Phoenix Boats Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor of FLW

Phoenix Boats Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor of FLW

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BENTON, Ky. - FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced Tuesday that it has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective... READ MORE »

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

Prepping for the 2020 Fishing Season

This is one of my favorite times of the year, the (not so) calm before the storm before the tournament season kicks off down south in January. READ MORE »

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Date For 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI

FLW Announces Schedule, Rules and Entry Date For 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI

BENTON, Ky. – Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) announced Thursday the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida, and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All... READ MORE »

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

I’m Signed up and Ready to Go

Following a great season in 2019, I just signed up for the FLW Pro Circuit for 2020. Foremost, I’m excited about the opportunities that are being provided by MLF and FLW. I see overall growth in the platform as we strive to be a bigger and better industry. READ MORE »