Skip to main content

Tips from Both a Boater and a Rider: 5 Ways You Can Land Tournament-Worthy Bass [PICS]

Facebook/Duke Nave

Looking to land bigger, tournament-worthy bass? Take these 5 tips from both a boater and a rider and you will.

Let me guess: you’ve been watching “Major League Fishing” and want to land the monster bass that you see anglers like KVD, Ike, and Hackney landing? Or, maybe you’ve just been looking for a different way to think about that kicker fish to seal the deal at your local club tournament.

Facebook/Duke Nave


I recently spoke with an old high school buddy of mine, Duke Nave, who is working his way towards becoming a professional bass fisherman on tour. This year, Duke will be fishing the BASS Northern Opens, FLW BFL Northeast Division, and Angler’s Choice. He has also represented Rapala at Cabela’s, by talking to customers regarding the fine lures and products that Rapala offers.

Here is how you can think like a boater and a rider. I’ve never had the opportunity to fish with Duke, but look forward to soon.


Here are Duke’s five tips on how to catch a tournament-worthy bass:

1. Rely on Your Practice Days

“I fish many bodies of water that I’m not that familiar with and don’t get much time to pre-fish. Rely on the success of your practice days to target areas you recently caught larger fish. You might tend to start out the tournament in an area you caught good numbers of fish to fill out a quick limit and settle your nerves, but then focus on areas you had more quality bites.”


2. Upsize Your Bait

“I know it is cliche, big baits catch big fish, but a lot of times if you are around a good group of fish, the smaller males will be the first fish you catch. Don’t be afraid to upsize your bait to try to get some of the larger females to eat.”

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Graph

“Many times as anglers we feel we are wasting time during a tournament to graph (side image/down image). This is especially true on bodies of water where you fish a lot of off-shore structure, shoals, schools, etc. Take a few minutes to use the electronics many have spent small fortunes on to locate fish and structure, in order to make more efficient casts during the tournament. What I mean is, put the trolling motor up, sit at the console and use your graph to side image and down image to locate structure/fish.

I do this mainly when fishing offshore just to ensure the fish are actually still there from one day to the next.”

4. Revisit Areas

“It is not uncommon for certain areas to replenish throughout the day. Many of us have the mindset of ‘I’ve already hit that spot’ and rule out key areas that fish may have reloaded during the day.”

5. Change it Up

“Twenty rods across the deck and many times we pick up one rod and have that in our hand all day. Many times I will focus on one technique, perhaps off-shore drop-shotting to catch a quick limit and then completely change techniques to flipping/pitching grass and/or lily pads for a bigger bite. You may only get one or two bites in that grass but they can be the ones you need to cull out and cash a check.”

“I hope these tips were helpful and help you put that kicker bass in the livewell!”

Facebook/Hooks Lines and Sinkers

All right, now here’s how I’m thinking as a rider:

1. Practice Days

My work schedule doesn’t usually allow for me to get on the water prior to the tournament days. Plus, when I have been able to go pre-fishing, I’ve fished with someone other than my tournament partner for the next day.

My method is to get online and find all of the local message boards and club posts that I can. Also, check the USGS site for water temperature and levels. Usually, if you Google the body of water, you can find a topographic map that may help. Fishidy and Navionics have done wonders for my prep as well. I keep my phone on me and reference these on the water, if things get tough.

2. Upsize Your Bait

If I see my boater doing this, I keep a counter-punch handy. One rig that I think is underrated is the split-shot rig with a senko or a trick worm. If your boater is flipping wood on the banks, this could be the ticket for you: something subtle that will get the fish’s attention. Also, if your guy is banging the banks and not having luck, throw a spinnerbait, crankbait or drag a football jig or tube on the other side. Maybe the fish are posting up just off of the bank.

Also, you may want to stay with what is working with your partner, until you get a limit. At that point, you could start thinking about upsizing to land that kicker.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Graph

There’s no better way to make informed decisions than being able to tell what is beneath the surface. If nothing else, at least you can tell the temperature and the depth, which can eliminate some options or give you an idea what to throw. If the boater only has something up by him on the front deck, don’t be afraid to ask the temp and the depth, at the very least.

Just ask, “Hey, can I get a little closer to see what you’re looking at?” In my experience, most guys have been fine with that.

4. Revisit Areas

Let’s say you’ve had an idea of where to go, but your boater was insisting on his spots. Well, it’s his ride, so etiquette should prevail and you should follow his lead. However, if during the day his spots haven’t put either of you on fish, don’t be afraid to speak up about an idea. Depending on the body of water that you fishing, be conscious of how long the runs may be. This is why it’s important to do your prep prior to the day, so that you can offer “Plan Bs” that are near where you’ve been running. If your prep puts both of you on fish, you’re golden!

5. Change It Up

One thing that fishing as a rider has taught me is that I have to be flexible and make adjustments. Throwing your confidence bait all day can be like banging your head on a wall. There is something to be said for sticking with what is working, but the water will change from start to finish. Also, you may want to replicate what your rider is throwing, if the situation dictates that, you may want to counter his approach. A fresh start can be a great thing.

Whether you are on the front or the back deck, these tips will help you catch better fish next time out on the water. Good luck and tight lines!

you might also like

Tips from Both a Boater and a Rider: 5 Ways You Can Land Tournament-Worthy Bass [PICS]