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Five Reasons to Skip Practice for Tough Bass Tournaments

Mike Iaconelli

Tired of struggling at tough bass tournaments? Here are five reasons why you should skip practice all together.

Since the inception of tournament bass angling in the '60s and '70s, bass anglers have grown used to "practice fishing" or scouting the lake prior to a tournament in order to gain a competitive edge and to better understand the lake. It is a misconception however, to assume that the more practice you put on the lake, the better you will do in the tournament.

In fact, at times, just the opposite scenario plays out. No matter the time of year, some tournaments are just flat-out destined to be extremely tough. Weather conditions, size of the field, available habitat, and overall fish population are all factors which can contribute to the degree of success an angler can expect to have at catching bass.

When all of these conditions go south and the bite gets tough, try eliminating practice all together. It's not for everyone, but if you have faith in yourself, you'll be glad you did.

1. Conditions are always changing.

No matter where you travel, it's rare that you'll have identical weather and water conditions for more than a day or two in a row. In fact, you likely won't have it for more than a few hours. Conditions change constantly, and what you find in practice may need to be scrapped completely anyway- especially on tough bodies of water.

Landscape of storm clouds passing over mountain range

2. Tough fishing ruins your confidence.

Practice is great when you're looking forward to a tournament with high optimism because you've been catching big bass all week. But if you've been on the flip side of that coin, you know how miserable it can be when you're struggling.

There's nothing worse than going an entire 12 hour fishing day, just 24 hours before a major event, without catching a fish. Having this happen destroys your confidence and leaves you second-guessing what you are going to do in the tournament.

3. Finances

People have been saying for years that bass tournament angling is a rich man's sport. It doesn't have to be, but you'll need to cut corners to still be successful without the big money bags. Skipping practice for as many tournaments as you can will aid in this scenario.

Instead, spend your time fishing as much as possible on your home body of water. Work on your instinctive mechanical skills that will catch you fish anywhere you go.

Fishing for money

4. Tough bites are extremely difficult to pattern.

When the bite gets tough, you're often covering miles of water to catch just five keeper fish a day. Practice can help you pinpoint where those fish are going to be at times, but if fish populations are scarce, catching one or two fish off a spot in practice could ruin it for tournament day.

Chances are, you'll end up spending the majority of your day fishing fast down a bank and a fish could come at any time out of any cover. Oftentimes, it's best to just head out on the lake and cover as much water as possible and catch what you can catch.

5. Instincts are better than "spots."

Probably one of the hardest things for most bass fisherman to accomplish is trusting his or her instincts at all times. If you have a feeling that maybe you should change colors, act on that feeling. Kevin VanDam, one of the best bass fisherman in the world once said that if you begin second-guessing a decision, it's already too late.

Act on your gut instinct and let it play out. This is more valuable than anything else under tough fishing conditions, which render GPS waypoints and marked-up maps useless. At that point it's nothing more than hard-fought, grinding-it-out fishing from start to finish. After all, you haven't spent countless hours reading "Bassmaster" and "In-Fisherman," or watching Bill Dance for no reason, did you?

Now's the time to take what you've learned as an angler and put it to the test, that's what I do!

Pictured: Cade Laufenberg Story: Minimal practice time and instinctive fishing were the keys in Winona State's first place finish at the 2014 FLW College Fishing Central Conference Championship.
Facebook/Cade Laufenberg


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Five Reasons to Skip Practice for Tough Bass Tournaments