Become a better angler

As each new season begins, we all have expectations that we are going to become better anglers, catch more fish, and have more fun.
Tournament anglers think about upcoming events all winter, new areas to check out, and new baits to try—and we come up with all kinds of preconceived notions we think may work.
Truth is, success in fishing comes from constantly learning and experimenting with new baits, techniques, and locations. We all rely on past history when we go out, but this can lead to a decline in success since we must evolve to constantly improve.
Look at tournament results from all the events in our region and see how rare it is for anglers to win the same event multiple times, especially back-to-back.
It does happen, but it is rare.
This season, try to follow some of these principles when you go fishing, whether it is for fun or in a tournament situation:
•Fish with different people or partners.
I fish tournaments with seven or eight different people each year and it is amazing how much you learn fishing with each one.
Even when I am guiding and fishing with people that may not be advanced to the tournament level, I still learn little things. It could be how tackle is stored, a different method of jigging, or a new way to rig a fluke.
Usually these are subtle things, but they can help you at the end of the day.
•Learn a new technique.
Magazines, Internet articles and message boards, and TV shows constantly are reporting on new techniques to catch fish. It could be drop-shotting, flipping, or a method of trolling, but they may have a useful application in a situation you will be faced with on the water.
Being versatile, and not using the same lure every time you go fishing, ultimately will put more fish in the boat.
•Learn a new spot every time you go out on the water.
If you just go to the same old spots each time you go fishing, time will catch up with you and you will miss the boat on what is happening now.
I have fished the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship for eight years now and I still find myself running back to fish the same spots I caught fish at the first years I fished it.
But weeds change, water levels change, and fishing pressure changes, so to be successful on a regular basis, you constantly must look for and explore new options.
My good friend, Joe Thrun, won the tournament last year and he told me (when I fished with him at the Labelle’s event in the fall) that they fished entirely new water than they did when they won the event years earlier.
•Learn how to use your electronics.
It baffles me that many anglers still are not using GPS on a regular basis or that they do not use their graphs to mark fish when they are fishing deep water.
These tools are invaluable and if you are not comfortable with your skills using either unit, take the time to learn. Ask tournament guys for help or read the manual that came with it.
Ted Stewner and Alex Keszler have had more success in bass tournaments than anybody at Rainy Lake over the years. They are excellent deep water, structure anglers because they are near geniuses with their electronics.

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