WHAT MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING TAUGHT ME
article by KENNY COVINGTON
In last month’ Bayou Life article I closed with a paragraph giving a plug to the Major League Fishing event that was held in early February on Lake Darbonne, Caney and Bussy Brake. As of the writing of this article, the tournament is at its halfway point, having completed the four-day first round on Lake Darbonne. An angler can learn a lot watching from watching from the sidelines, even when watching others fish a lake you know like the back of your hand.
What are some of the things I learned watching the pros fish for a few days? While none of the competitors fished anywhere, I was not already familiar, I did learn some innovative ideas on how to fish things differently and to think freely when on the water. What separates the average angler from the good angler and the good from the great, is their mindset and their knowledge application.
One thing that struck me while watching the MLF broadcast is how thoroughly and efficiently the anglers covered their areas. There were no wasted movements or casts, everything was done with a purpose. Their patience and observation skills were obvious but they also, like any other angler, struggled when things were slow. However, none of the competitors ever lost their confidence.
The next thing I was impressed with was their use of their electronics and updated technology. On more than one occasion, an angler would say, “I saw that fish on my electronics” and then make a cast to the fish and catch it. For someone like me who has refused to embrace modern technology because I mistakenly thought it would only benefit someone fishing deeper water, the success of the anglers using it in shallow water applications was eye opening.
While I am still holding fast on my belief that I do not need one to be competitive, I now realize just how important it can be to an angler who can learn and understand all its benefits. Fishing is an always evolving sport and I do not want my hard-headedness to keep me from evolving as an angler.
Another thing I saw the pros excel at was boat control. They always made a conscious effort to have their boats in a position to make the correct cast. I can think of several examples over the years where if I had shown a little more patience and put myself in a better position, I would have caught fish that I lost due to my poor boat control. It is these trivial things that we overlook, at the end of the day can make all the difference in our success or failure on the water.
Here are some other tidbits…
On the water adjustments are key. Often, I would see them change their tactics before they would just totally give up on an area. But even more impressive, they had the instinct to stay put when fishing got tough. If the area was producing fish, they put their heads down and kept fishing hard. This is especially important when fishing in a tough tournament or fishery. Arkansas fishing legend Larry Nixon has said for years, “Never leave fish to go find fish.” How prophetic that has proven to be.
With the alternate day format, I found it interesting how many anglers found and fished the same areas. The one example that stuck out the most was the area Jonathon Van Dam fished was also being worked over by Mark Daniels, Jr., although neither angler knew about each other. Both anglers caught fish, however, Daniels caught more and bigger fish using a suspending jerkbait while Van Dam used primarily a small swimbait. Did the day matter? Had the conditions changed to give Daniels an advantage? There are no easy answers.
While on my way to fish a tournament in Arkansas, MLF host Marty Stone called me and asked me my thoughts on the anglers and the lakes they would be fishing. I told him I believed the four days on Darbonne would be tough but if they could survive those days, Caney and Bussey would be more to their liking. But I also told him Darbonne would be dominated by the guys who preferred to power fish as compared to the light line specialist.
During our conversation, Marty said something that really stuck with me. He said, “These guys do this for a living. They are the best in the world. They will leave no stone unturned. If these lakes have “secrets” they will find them. I know a lot of people will say, “well they aren’t fishing anywhere I haven’t fished before” and I get that but what the fans need to understand is that these guys have never been here before, so they are finding areas that may have taken the locals years to discover.”
“It’s not just about fishing” he continued, “it’s about the whole package. Electronics, equipment, casting and tackle but most importantly their mental make-up. That is the one thing that separates them from everyone else. They believe they will catch them. Jacob Wheeler can catch them anywhere we go. So can Ott Defoe, as well as several others. Although the weights will be a lot lower than other places we have been, these lakes will be no different. They will figure them out.” Oh, how right he was.
Well, it looks like we have run out of space and time for another month. I hope we have shared some information with you that will make your next trip to the water more productive. With spring right around the corner, I cannot think of a better time to be on the water! Be careful and make sure you catch one for me!