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Posted by mmagnone, 10/15/2019 12:17:50 PM
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There's few absolute truths in fishing, but if there was one that rings true year after year for tournament and recreational fisherman alike, it's keeping a positive mental attitude when on the water.

I'm not talking about being the "stud" on the water that thinks is stuff doesnt stink then acting like a complete jackass,  I'm talking about when your day slowly moves its way into  the all too familiar spiral, keeping a positive attitude knowing that the next cast could be the potential for greatness.

Approaching a weekend or weekday fishing trip, whether it be fishing a tournament or simply out fishing with the boys, we all find ourselves painting the perfect image in our heads, long before we even hit the water, with the grand idea of putting an absolute beat down on the fish. We can envision ourselves rolling up the first spot, grabbing our favorite bait, placing it smack dab on our mark and then winding tight to a 10 pound bass. Sure, there are times it's that simple having the fish pegged, but in the "real world"; It's not happening. Hate to break it to you, but just because you think it will, doesnt mean that it will. Or does it?

The majority of anglers show up the the lake with 10 rods on the deck of their boats, each rigged with baits they've done well with in the past, whether it be last year this same time or last week. Topwater, Crankbaits, Chatterbait, Jig, Worm etc. etc.
They pick up the topwater immediately because "the book" told them that's what you do in the first hours of the morning. After rounding 50 yards of bank, and telling their backseater how they ALWAYS get em' on top at this lake, they decide that the fish simply don't wanna  eat the topwater today. 

Continuing with their hunt they pull out each rod pre-rigged and let their baits fly. Some with extreme confidence and others for literally 3 casts before they place it down and grab the next one.
"Hmph? They must not be willing to move today"
"Their strike zone must be small."
"Fishing seems slow. I need to be drop shotting!".
"Wow it's tough today. Our tournament is going to be a griiiiiiiiiind!"

After an hour or two, the angler has 15 rods on the deck of the boat, 3 lids half opened, and 15 colors of baits he's rotated through leaving himself WAY more confused and simply going through the motions.

Seem familar?

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We all go through this. It's called "The Spiral". Some people find this happening early in  the day and more seasoned anglers having it happen later in the day. Some people, not so much. It's just a part of fishing where the grand plan belly flops causing an angler to dig deep. It never ceases to amazing me when an angler simply gives up and puts his boat on the trailer. I'm not going to lie and say it hasn't happened to me a time or two, but it's how you rebound that makes all the difference. 

Day 2 of the 2019 National Bass West Championship this year we had a fairly strong pattern that showed promise to rebound from a mid range limit on day 1 into something nice on the 2nd day. With no key big bites the first day, and knowing the potential in our spots, we went back out to do some WORK.
IN OUR HEADS, we knew we would have a limit by 10:00AM allowing us time to hunt big ones for the rest of the day. We had the goal of 15-17 pounds in our heads. First spot we rolled up to, I bombed a chatterbait out towards a deep rock pile and not more than 20 cranks we had our first keeper in the livewell. Not a big one but it was a start. After 15-20 casts with nothing, I switched it back up and put on a craw bait which, we had solid action on all week in practice and Day 1 of the event.. 
"Hmmm... this isn't getting bit"
"Did we burn them out yesterday"
"Maybe another boat rolled in when we left and milked the area"
"Maybe it's a timing thing"
We bounce around to a couple key areas. Dan with the craw bait and I with the chatterbait. Well, after an hour and scrapping another mid range keeper that we would eventually cull out, we knew we needed to change with the fish. Knowing we needed a couple big ones we opted to run around and see if we could flip up a couple big keepers. Literally "Go Big or Go Home!" I reached for my heavy punch rod and start going to work. After 100 yards of flipping deep, shallow in the grass and along rock, literally nothing. Dan tells me:
"I got a feeling"
He pulls out his surface bait and bombs to a tule lane. Then again, and again, and again, AND AGAIN! I'm talking like 15 casts in a row. TO THE SAME SPOT!  I'm thinking to myself "What in the actual hell is going on here" Haha. He and I both have learned to just let eachother just roll with the gut feeling no matter how funky they may seem.
All of the sudden...

Up pops a beautiful Lake Havasu largemouth and what would shift our bite into new direction.
Wearing the spot out with a million casts, I fire the boat up and run into a new area. He makes a simple remark.
"Oh whoa, that one followed it out!"

The light switch flips and I reach for a big bait and bomb a cast out over top of some grass. First cast I have a 3-4 pound class fish come up and launch over the top of it but misses it. A few casts later I connect with a 3 pounder. Holy crap we're getting some momentum.
I make another spot change and then connect with another stud Smallmouth on the big bait. Move again and ANOTHER one lands the net. 
Had we given up when our bite fell apart early, we most likely would have sat out deep and wormed our way into a sweet 4 fish and a 40th place finish. Keeping a positive mental attitude helped us think, learn and listen and put us in position. 

The fact of the matter is, all us anglers simply DON'T KNOW. Adaptation and free thinking allows us to break the puzzle down in the quickest amount of time. Keeping your head in the game only helps in making strong decisions and keeping each person in the boat in the zone.
If you think you're going to do bad; Most likely you will. 
Believing you'll do good; A lot of the time you'll put yourself into strong decision making. 
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