BassWestUSA - January/February, 2010, Page 70

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competitive team Fishing What It Takes To Win Together

Shaun BaIley

aren’t many people who are as lucky as I am. To have such a reliable, talented, honest team partner who is also a great friend, Mike Rooke. His dedication and passion for bass fishing is what drives him to succeed. Mike is one of two partners I’ve fished with and he’s the only person I would consider fishing with today. Both of us do this for a living with no financial help from spon- sors whatsoever. Each of us has learned that to really make a liv- ing in this industry it takes hard work and so much dedication; to the average guy it seems ridiculous. So I’m here to tell you a few things that I think make a great team and how you can apply it to your team fishing. You must start with two people who are equally dedicated and driven to win. You definitely can’t have one guy doing all the work and wanting to win while the other guy just shows up for the ca-

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maraderie. That just doesn’t work for a successful winning team. You must be fully confident in each other’s decisions on the water and fish finding abilities like they were your own. It’s imperative you work together and are both on the same page. You can’t be out on the water arguing over what spot to go to; you just have to trust each other’s instincts. For instance, last week Mike and I were in a tournament on Lake Havasu. We already had a pretty good bag and it was getting to be about weigh in time. Mike said, “Hey, let’s get out of here.” I said, “Ok, but one more cast each and we’re gone.” He agreed. One minute later, Mike’s getting whooped by a 4-pound smallie. “Ha, ha,” I just said. “Love those one more cast calls.” Last year’s championships here on Lake Havasu; three differ- ent times I told Mike to put down his flippin’ stick and throw a frog into a pocket...all three times he caught a big one. The point is he never thought twice about it. He made one more cast and caught a 4 pounder, had confidence enough in me to cast a frog where I thought a big one should be and BAM... big ones! I can’t count the number of times I wanted to start some- where but Mike had a gut feeling we should go somewhere else, spoke up about it and when we got to where he wanted to go, we’d catch a huge sack. It’s all about trust. Another huge part of team fishing is communication. Mike and I call each other on the water pretty much after every fish we catch. Since we’re in separate boats, we like to let each other know what’s going on, time you caught and so on to try pattern feeding times in certain areas. You and your partner must commu- nicate on pre-fish areas, baits and patterns before you launch. We always have a game plan for practice and unless weather changes our plans, we stick to the game plan that was thought out before. Using your pre-fishing time wisely is really important. You can be wasting a lot of valuable time doing something that’s not going to help you win. So talk with your partner in detail about your best patterns for winning and run with those for your pre-fish. The most important reason why Mike and I do so well is be- cause he is the only person I will “fun” fish, practice and fish tourna- ments with. We both have spent a lot of time figuring out patterns, techniques and areas on Lake Havasu to fish and we don’t wish to share that information with others. Simply put, it’s not worth it to fish with anybody else. So often I see guys with one partner for one tournament trail and a different partner for another one, and both those guys have other partners for other trails as well. Before you know it everyone is running the same patterns with the same baits, on the same spots and everyone is wondering where all the fish went. When six to eight teams have been pre-fishing the same areas, the fish simply can’t handle all of the pounding on them. So they leave or they’ve all been caught. So, one team partner for all trails and circuits is for sure the best option for success. So choose your partner wisely, be honest with each other and trust each other’s decisions!!! BW

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January/February 2010