BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 49

kicker will win it or a limit fish will send you to the Tournament of Champions? Basswest USA had a chance to run this topic by two of the West’s premier anglers to get their thoughts on how to make the best use of a tournament’s first and last hours. Greg Gutierrez, longtime pro and BASS Elite angler until this year, when he chose to step away due to family medical issues, and Bill Siemantel, leg- endary trophy angler and accomplished tournament fisherman, talked with us about their approaches to these critical moments in competitive angling.

It would be reassuring to hear that a slow start isn’t that big of a deal. Veteran anglers, however, have a habit of telling it like it is rather than telling us what we want to hear. “There are a lot of tour- neys that are won during the first hour,” says Greg Gutierrez. He notes that if the big fish are up and feeding during the low- light conditions of early morning, that could well represent the critical activity period for the day and who- ever capitalizes on it most effectively, wins. “Some places are all about shade and low light,” he con- tinues, “and I’ve also seen the big effect cur- rent can have on lakes like Guntersville.” Bill Siemantel, too, acknowledges that, depending on the season, the early bite might well rule. “At certain times of the year – fall and

opening driVes

winter – the window of opportunity is the first hour. By 9 AM, it’s done.” So, if that initial choice of position and pattern is so critical, how do you make the most of it? Although Gutierrez recognizes its importance, he states, “I don’t ever prefish for the first hour of a tournament.” The pro from Red Bluff, California admits that if he finds a wad of fish during practice, he’ll often choose that spot as his starting point. However, he notes the risks inherent in putting too much stock in a single honeyhole. “The whole magic window disappears so fast… If you put all your fish in that basket, your en- tire day can run away from you.” There’s another, obvious factor over which tournament anglers typically have no control but which can have enormous impact – boat number. Siemantel and team partner Troy Lindner (son of TV fishing personality, Al Lindner) have won two TOC’s within the last 6 months, the most recent be- i n g the Anglers’ Choice February 2009 championship held at Lake Castaic. He states that on some waters, success really can boil down to luck of the draw. “On a lake like Castaic, if you’re boat 20, you know most of the other guys are going to the exact same spot that you had in

so, if that initial choice of posi- tion and pattern is so critical, how do you make the most of it?

Photo courtesy of BASS Communications.

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