BassWestUSA - May/June 2009, Page 70

pro file

keep it simple But Prepare Meticulously


Editors Note - Every issue we give you the latest information from pros across the country. In this case it’s Utah pro Scott Nielsen, sharing some thoughts on tourna- ment preparation and mindset the night be- fore a major event. A perennial top finisher in the West, Scott is a former Bass Master Classic qualifier, US Open Champion, and 2009 Forrest Wood Cup contender. As Scott put this column together as he was putting the final touches on his gear for the FLW Series event at Lake Havasu.

build up ideas in their head, both good and bad. Am I really on them? Are other guys on them? Who’s going to be in my area? Are the fish going to move on me? Do I have enough weight to be competitive? There are all the rumors flying around. This guy’s catching them - that guy’s not. It’s going to take 30 pounds a day to get a check? Please! Personally I try stay away from all these emotions. I don’t get wrapped up in playing head games. I go out and try to identify the areas and techniques that are going to be comfortable for my fishing style. By doing this I am giving my experi- ence and knowledge the ability to come out at the highest level, going to my confidence pattern. This is what I need to find, expand, and believe in, to win a major event. I look at the different variables, things like struc- ture, cover, current, and water clarity. Personally I like to fish off-colored to stained water. I like off-colored wa- ter for a number of reasons. One is its usually a little more nutrient rich wa- ter and I believe I catch heavier fish. Also, I seem to be able to manufac- ture a reaction bite even when the conditions such as wind aren’t in my favor. When fish are just coming up, like they are right now, the fish don’t seem to be so spooky. In an event like I am preparing for, I know what 90 percent of the field will be doing, sight fishing and

chasing bed fish. I don’t like sight fishing. I don’t see them as well as other guys so it’s not one of my strengths. On the other hand guys get locked into wasting hours on fish that may never bite. So I may be at an ad- vantage in this event, as only 10 percent of the field will be moving into the dirty ar- eas. In a 4-day event, this could really pay big dividends. My fish will hopefully be less pressured over the course of the week opening up larger opportunities for me. During practice I spent a solid two days fishing my strengths, the other two days were spent in the main lake looking for back up patterns. I looked for larger bed fish, as well as tried to find some avenues to catch big females cruising off beds. At this point I am down to 3 rods for day one of the tournament, and will really try to pound those three baits all day. A spinnerbait, a creaturebait, and a shallow crankbait are my staple. If I have to adjust I will, but I tend to have a bet- ter chance to win when I stay with my strengths. For instance some guys can go out and junk fish. They are comfortable with having 8 to 10 different rods on the deck. They are fishing a variety of differ- ent baits and locations, and it can work for them. For me it’s the opposite, I do my best when I have only 2 or 3 rods on the deck. I usually will have more in practice, but by derby time I want it down to just a few. My event preparation is meticulous. I look for a winning pattern, then look for a back up plan or two, and finally go out and eliminate water. I do this by reviewing past tournaments, using the Internet to lo- cate information on the body of water, so by practice I already have an idea where to maximize my time. By tournament time I have confidence in what I’m doing, and a belief that the bite will come to me. I don’t worry at all about what everyone else is doing. The major difference between bass fishing and other sports is you really don’t know until weigh in how you stack up. Af- ter day one, I’ll have a better feel for the event and adjust accordingly. Hopefully I won’t have to change much. BW


many anglers, the night before a tournament can be a roller coaster. I’ve never understood this. Anglers are either up or down, excited or worried. Many of them



May/June 2009