You’ve got to have your mind right before you fish a major tournament. The biggest thing for me is to become focused. I have to flip the switch and turn everything in my world off, except fishing, each day I’m on the water. In practice and during the tournament, I try not to think about anything that’s going on in my life, except the fishing, the water in front of me, the bass I’m trying to catch, and the lures I’m using. I have to stay in the moment. And that means on every cast I have to expect to catch a bass, and I’ve got to be ready to make the hook set.
You may have heard the term, “You play like you practice,” and that’s especially true for bass fishermen. If we don’t expect a bite on every cast, there’s a 50/50 chance we won’t set the hook or won’t set it in the proper way. In some tournaments, we may only have five or six bites all day long, and unless you’re accustomed to that, staying focused as a professional angler can be tough mentally. At the same time, the more focused you are when you’re fishing on the water, the faster you can pick up on small changes in temperatures, water conditions, wind conditions and happenings on the water. Then you can adapt to those changes quickly and possibly switch how you’re fishing, where you’re fishing, and what lures you need to be using under those new sets of conditions that increase your chances for catching the bass you need to win.
The fishing fraternity is divided into two different sections. There’s the recreational fisherman who just wants to go out on the water, have a good time with his buddy, and if he does or doesn’t catch a fish, well, then that’s okay. However, once you become a tournament pro, your family’s financial condition is totally dependent on your fishing performance. So, professional bassers have to be as concentrated and focused when we’re fishing as a diamond cutter must be when he starts to cut a precious stone. Because how you proceed determines how much money the diamond cutter will make, and how much money the fisherman is going to make. That single-mindedness has to begin on the way to the tournament, when you check into the hotel or motel, the night before the first day of practice, and during the entire time of practice, so that you’ll be able to think that way when this tournament starts and throughout the tournament.