Bass fishing has got all kinds of rules: tournament rules, unwritten rules, guidelines or general rules–and as a rule, most fishermen abide by them. Yet, there are actually situations where it’s okay to buck the rule–well, at least those that won’t lead to a disqualification.

In fact, here’s one maybe you should break: that general rule “Don’t listen to dock talk.” Dock talk, of course, is that maelstrom of conversation where bits of information from varying sources bombard you just ahead of any tournament. The conventional thinking on the matter is that so much unattributed data will figuratively muddy up your water.

But after some consideration (and maybe another good episode of CSI) I sense that we make a mistake by writing off information just because we can’t verify the source. In other words, there is no bad information, only information used badly.

I would never use dock talk to initiate a plan. You always build that from research, followed by on-the-water observation. But once you “get on their trail,” I find it’s easier to sort out the conversation. Because there are bound to be a lot of observations and speculation, all you need to heed are those things that confirm what you’ve found.

Rarely do you have to worry about baits because everyone has a tackle box full of them. Same about depth. You have a sonar and you’ve probably beat a lot of bank, so you know the depth range to probe. But you may hear something about time of day, or cover type or retrieve speed that dovetails nicely with what you’ve found in your own practice.

In other words, don’t chase shadows. But if you find your own pattern, even if it’s not the dominant one, it may be good enough because it is yours. But a little corroboration–real or contrived–from the guys in the parking lot should give you a confidence boost that won’t hurt.

So I’m thinking, don’t worry about breaking dock talk rule.