We talkin’ ‘bout practice

    Organized competition works because the parties involved come as prepared as possible to best ensure everyone involved is at their personal best.
    The competition itself is pleasure—the practice beforehand is strictly business.
    When it comes to competitive fishing, that practice is known as “pre-fishing.” When the anglers head out on boat, rod in hand, to scope out where the fish are, what the water is like, how their equipment is working, and so on.
    Many of us practice purely out of necessity, and often begrudgingly (ask Allen Iverson what he thinks about practice). But as is so often when comparing fishing to the rest of sport, anglers are the exception to the rule.
    They actually like pre-fishing.
    For example, Gene and Kirk Boyer, two brothers from the Twin Cities area, were up pre-fishing on Rainy Lake during the week of July 4. They’re regular top 10 finishers at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship and cite the lake as their personal favourite.
    They’re coming up to scout both where the fish are and how the lake feels.
    “We try to learn new techniques,” said Kirk. “Whether it’s drop shots, jerk baits . . . you never know what’s going to work out there.”
    Gene admitted there’s hardly a science to figuring where the fish gather in the lake so far in advance. “The fish aren’t going to be where they are [during the tournament] until a week before, two tops,” he noted.
    So why drive all the way to Fort Frances to get a little practice time in?
    Gene said he and his brother think of the trip as “kind of a fun pre-fish . . . we look at it as a vacation and a good time, as well as pre-fishing.”
    The fact they brought a slew of relatives with them—some of whom hail from far outside Minnesota—shows the pair have decided they may as well mix business and pleasure.
    Ralph Galusha said he usually gets three or four days of pre-fishing in before tournaments he enters. And it seems to be a winning formula for him—having won the Emo Walleye Classic back in May before finishing second at the “Castin’ for Cash” bass tourney earlier this month.
    He said his pre-fishing on Lake Despair with his pal, Pat Steele, took place mostly during the evening, as dictated by his work schedule. “Evenings won’t really help you. They bite in the evening, they won’t always bite during the day,” he noted.
    So if it won’t help, why go to the hassle of pre-fishing? For one, it’s good to get in a rhythm, but more importantly, they don’t see it as that much of a hassle.
    It’s easy enough to understand the appeal. Pre-fishing is, in a lot of ways, just casual, recreational fishing. It’s a return to one’s fishing roots.
    After all, competitive anglers are simply recreational fishermen who took their game to the next level.
    Pre-fishing removes so many of the restrictions of tournament fishing—the competition, and the start and end times—and reduces things to some quality time spent alone on the lake.
    And isn’t that what it’s about, anyway?

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