Over the years, I’ve fished with a lot of folks on my boat, and during those countless trips I’ve witnessed all kinds of common bass fishing brain lapses (and been the executor of said brain lapses, as well). The thread I’ve noticed that ties many of these common bass fishing foibles together is poor concentration-keeping practices during the mundane, monotonous times when the action isn’t hot. It’s easy to be on your A game when the bass are biting with regularity, but it’s just as easy to lose focus when it’s slow, which often causes you to screw up during those explosive moments peppered among the doldrums. These are the 5 mistakes I witness most often in descending order of criticality, and they’re all easily fixable.
5.) Changing Lures Too Frequently: Too often, anglers are buried in the tackle box making trivial lure selections at bad times. If you’re changing lures, you’re not fishing. Sometimes hooking a big fish just means getting something (anything) in the right spot at the right time. If you’re fishing in the back of a bass boat and the front angler scratches on a piece of structure, your cast might score in the same spot. But if you’re changing lures instead of casting, you might let that structure zip by and miss your opportunity. That’s why you should stick to confidence baits when the bite is slow.
4.) The Plop: A lot of bass fishing success revolves around proper presentation. When you lose concentration during slow stints, it seems like the first thing to go down the drain is care about how the lure you’re casting or pitching lands in the water. A big, fat plop usually doesn’t get the result you want. Silence is deadly.
3.) Too Much Jibber-Jabber: Trust me, I’m the first one to cut it up on the boat, but when fishing a particular area requires focus, my mouth shuts. It becomes a little difficult to gently place a jig under a small dock with each cast and feel for a subtle bite while reminiscing about the the 1982 weather conditions and the invention of the Helicopter Lure. It’s a fine line, but too much talk often equals too little concentration. I’ve heard that some of the all-time great bass anglers like Rick Clunn say very little during the competition day, sometimes to the point of being Zen-like.
2.) More Fishing, Less Time Wasting: Time management is very important in bass fishing, because the moments that make the biggest difference often occur infrequently and when you least expect them. So when they do happen, you have to pour it on in a big way to cash in on the fleeting opportunity. If you are spending 35 minutes sipping on a Fanta and spooling up your crankbait rod during the critical morning bite, you’re not putting fish in the boat.
1.) The Angle of the Dangle: Most pro anglers are anal about their lure presentation, me being one of them. If you fish less often, it might be more difficult to recognize that a Texas-rigged plastic with a kink or bend in it (see photo), or a jig trailer that’s hanging halfway off the hook makes a big difference in getting bites. Take the time to make sure worms and plastics are rigged straight and dangling true. It’s this little stuff that matters most in the split second necessary to fool Mr. Hog who lives at the base of that laydown you just pitched to.