temple bar headquarters

YOU NEED all the tools you can get…

If I have any credibility left (and there are some questions about that) it is because mostly because I have been willing to call it like I see it.  So now, coming back from the 2013 U.S. Open, I think I’m ready for that hard look in the mirror.

Every year I try and expand my knowledge (it’s never-ending) and have certainly gained a depth of experience along the way.

But the new generation of tournament bass fishermen seems to be pulling away like so many 250-horsepower boats leaving me in their wakes.

Like it or not I have to admit, in the 4-day, head-to-head Opens of yesteryear (1987-88), I finished in the top third or better of those big fields. In the 2012-13 editions, I’ve  been a fixture in the bottom third. I confess, I’d like to offer up some excuses here, but fact is, I just don’t have any.

However, what I can offer up are some lessons or tips I have learned over the last couple of years on Lake Mead. Whether I’ll ever have time to take advantage of them or not is unclear:

1. Practice with a partner. Over two years, three days with a partner were more fruitful than nine days solo. More than knowing about how the fish are reacting, you see it for yourself. And you can always quiz your partner about retrieves, angles or anything you might have missed while concentrating on your own casts. Besides, there is only one morning and one afternoon per day, so more casts and lure choices can be delivered at each segment with two people throwing.

2. Don’t accept the “easy fish” as evidence you’re on them in practice. You have to dig deeper, farther back in the cover (treat the “wood” like gold) and consider the wind, sky conditions and likely boat pressure come tournament day. If you don’t it’s easy to become frustrated.

3. Don’t play favorites in your tackle box. It doesn’t matter what you like to do, or what you’ve always relied on. If you know a bait or pattern is working, make it a priority to put it to use. We have all the stuff, but we sometimes get reluctant to tie it on. A year ago I added the crankbait and buzzer. Now, I’ve got to add a jig.

4. The middle is as important as the top and the bottom. Everyone is good fishing on the bottom. Everyone is excellent fishing on top. But mostly it’s Gary Dobyns who is strong in the middle of the water column. For me, despite the low finish, the middle was critical for a final day limit.

so much of it

THERE’S SO MUCH and a lot of it is way out there.

5. Get more horsepower, if you can. Of course, you can fish the big lake with 150 horses and 18 feet. But over the longer distances–even with safe water conditions–you lose casts the farther you have to run. At 60 miles per hour, you’re going a mile a minute. At 72 miles per hour, you can go 12 miles farther in the same span (or .2 miles for every minute).

But what if you can only go 48 mph? You’ve got another 24 miles to go in order to fish the same area and you’re only covering .8 miles per minute in the race. They’re casting. You’re running. Minutes mean casts. As well as the security blanket you can change plans and make additional long runs if an area doesn’t not pan out.

We can only afford what we can afford. But if you need a reason for that bigger rig–not an excuse–it’s like those kids in the AT&T commercial. “More is better.”





9 Responses to “Open lessons learned…though maybe too late”

Seems like nowadays it’s all about who has lots of money.Kind of shame as I’m sure the fish don’t know who has bucks. For the record,I am not a tournament fisherman,don’t even own a boat.Just shorefish for the fun of it and I have a ball.Catch my share too!I remember fishing with my grandfather so many years ago.They didn’t have depth finders,GPS,etc but we caught a whole lot of fish!

I remember way back when BASS had a maximum 150HP limit rule.
I have a 175HP on my Champion but I never get to use that power because on the lakes I fish have speed limits anywhere from 35mph to 45mph.

You are a winner in my book for having fished the Open. Keep showing up and know you are an inspiration regardless of where you finish.

Interesting about middle water column being a key. What were you doing. What areas. How many dinks a day. Stripers,how many. Give it up George. Great last day weight. It should be 4 days. Pro on pro.

Asking the 102nd place finisher is awkward at my end, Mark. I did all the ususal: topwater, wakebaits, dropshot, diving crank but ended up fishing a jig more than I planned, and catching most of my keepers on a quarter-ounce head swimbait like the size baits in an umbrella rig.

But there is a “middle” even in shallow water. For example, Rusty Brown (the Open champ) caught several of his fish popping a spinnerbait out of the grass up in Gregg Basin.

What I found generally is the fish were not willing to hit topwater, so using my old Road Runnner, crank and stop retrieve, I could get keeper bites on the swimmer, on the fall or sometimes a straight crank. Only caught two stripes (a double) that convinced me to leave an area toward Vegas Wash, and we would see 15 to 30 shorts a day in Temple Bair (10:1 ratio); except on last day when it was about 40/60 keepers to short fish in Overton Arm.

Glad you made it home safe and sound George. Hopefully we will see you out there next year!

Hey George,
Got to love those Phenix / ProLine Spinnerbaits (that Rusty was throwing) for fishing the middle at Lake Mead. Nearly all of my keepers came on the spinnerbait as well.

George, proud of ya for fishing the Open. That’s a grueling event no way about it. As for Dobyns, I’d have to agree with ya, he is pretty strong in the middle. 😉

I never felt worse physically until two days after the contest. Drained, sore, old. But with a week’s more rest, I’d be lyin’ to you if I didn’t say, I’d love another shot at the tournament.