BassWestUSA - January/February, 2011, Page 73



What Makes the Pros Great?


a writer, my favorite part of the job is the chance to interview the top players in our sport. I prepare beforehand for such a privilege. I familiarize myself with their latest tournament results. I bone up on how they have been shing, what tactics they've been using and so on. Then I tailor a line-up of killer questions speci c to each top angler. They are ques- tions I hope many readers would like to have answered to help them with their own performance. Overall, my questions are aimed at uncovering what makes these pros great? My timing is perfect too, since I tend to grill them exactly when they're doing their very best. So far, I have not uncovered any top secrets, tricks or shortcuts one can follow to perform like a top pro. I've interviewed enough pros by this time; I would be shocked if one ever said anything that was truly some secret tip. Most of the time, they mention the same lures that you and I use. They tend to use them in basic ways and basic colors. In fact, most pros tend to be less "color happy" with lures than the average angler. Black with blue jigs get mentioned quite a bit. Black neon tubes. Green pumpkin plastics. White or chartreuse/white spinner- baits. The colors they use to win top competitions are typically few and ordinary. It goes against the premise of "show them something they have not seen before." From what I can gather, the top pros often show them something quite common. It always impresses me how clear and simple these guys make it sound when they are shing well. By the time I speak to them, they've already eliminated all the complexity from their game plans. They're operating at a basic level, albeit awlessly. I thought I had found some great wisdom once. A top pro angler nished superbly in a top tournament. He revealed to me he won by doing something none of his formidable competitors had discovered on that lake. His strategic advantage was twofold: 1) he shed bare banks, and 2) with a bigger lure than the others. These two keys - bare banks and bigger baits - held up for the entire event, enabling the pro to do very well indeed. Yet how he got clued in to his winning strategy was not through some incredible insight. Competing boats already occupied the ooded brush and other textbook spots he really wanted to sh. All the good-looking stuff he found in practice had competitors parked on it for the duration. He had nowhere left to sh but the bare banks. If it wasn't for that, he would never have tried the bare banks said he. What he deduced in hindsight was insightful - that all the pro pressure exerted on the "good" water had forced the sh to move from those areas and into unpressured water. Like if a balloon was lled with bass and if you squeezed one end (the pressured water), then the bass would move to the other end of the balloon, the unpressured bare banks. That's what he felt had happened there. It would have been masterful genius if he had predicted that beforehand. But being squeezed out of his preferred spots with nowhere left to go was what led to his good nish. I next asked what clued him into deploying bigger baits that resulted in bigger-than-average weighers? No sage advice one can follow here either. "I ran out of the smaller size," said he. I don't think any less of the great pros for answers like these. Fact is I have come to expect these ordinary kinds of answers from them. It's what they mean when they say, "I made all the right decisions." No, I can't uncover any secrets why the pros are so good at shing. But what makes an Olym- pic gold medalist excel at swimming or ice skating? It's not the pool, the rink or the skates. What makes an extraordinary student score higher grades than the rest of the class? It's neither the textbooks nor the pen. In shing as in life, what separates the greats from the rest of us is hard work, time practicing and training, study, and the drive to suc- ceed. That's what makes the Kevin Short winning on Pickwick in 2010; his pros great. There are no secret tips or second Bassmaster Elite shortcuts to achieve that. BW

series win in two years.

Photo courtsey of Vicious Fishing

January/February 2011