The FLW Tour has a little different official practice schedule than BASS Elite or PAA events, and as you may know or are now learning, I am fishing the FLW Tour starting this March. For FLW Tour events, practice begins on Sunday(even though Chic-Fil-A is closed) and ends on Tuesday. Wednesday, the day before the event, the entire field has off. This is quite possibly the thing I am most excited for. It sounds trivial I'm sure, but take into consideration that I used to have to rush and practice until the last minute on Wednesday, rush to the meeting, rush back trying to stuff a large roast beef sandwich down from "The Big Hat"...that's our inside name for Arby's bc of the big hat sign....or opt to eat as many free cheese chunks and pork barbeque from the pre-tournament meeting spread, then rush back to the hotel, rig tackle until at least 10 PM, not be able to fall asleep until midnight, get inadequate sleep for the first day of the event, then show up the first day to a massive line at the ramp because everyone tried to sleep until the last minute because the cheese chucks and Grey Poupon didn't sit well in their stomach the night before.........just a lot of unnecessary stress to start the week and it gets old really quickly! Poor me right? The day off keeps everyone fresh to start the event making us enthusiastic about promoting the event and fishing in general, gives everyone adequate practice for 3 full days, and ultimately decreases the amount of unnecessary grey hairs.
To be quite honest, there were many Wednesdays when I fished BASS and PAA events that I didn't even practice. It simply wasn't logistically feasible to get up at zero-dark-thirty and fish for two hours targeting a random morning bite or another entirely different part of the lake, then turn around and head back in to rush and rig tackle and prepare the boat before rushing to the meeting. Many times it caused more problems then the couple hours was worth, other times I just felt I had enough junk to fish. It really was an advantage for the guys that got a lot of information on fishing locations, and I was not one of them. So, before you even say it, I did get information legally and rarely here and there before the cutoff and I feel everyone does to some extent on all Tours... for general patterns, but in contrast some live off of it... and some use the minimal amount they get to hopefully steer them in the vague right direction, or just detect the path everyone else may take. And also, I don't feel that the short different practice in BASS or PAA was set up intentionally for people getting information....let's just say it was advantageous for and also enhanced their data consolidation and management skills while accentuating the differential of the ratio of total practice time over total productive practice time. Nevermind, that probably makes no sense!! What else are my blogs for??? But anyway, it's all patterns in fishing, so I don't worry about it too much, the super-spot-on locations just help increase the odds for that guy receiving the goods. So really, having no information is like going up to bat and taking a strike, it may put you in the hole 0-1, but you see what the pitcher's got in return.
And speaking of fishing patterns, I've been working with a cool project called www.myfishpattern.com....check it out online.....it's a pretty integrated system. A lot of work will be going into it as the season goes on so stay tuned in.
For those that live off of info (no matter which Tour or caliber of tournament they fish), here is how their practice goes down if it was solely based on information they receive... I've seen it too many times from a bystander perspective: They would show up the first morning of practice and pop in on a few community holes showing their face and maybe even catching a few chips in front of someone to draw more attention to the community behavior, mostly waste that day jerkin' around making themselves look productive. You see, that's the day(day 1) of practice that most hyper-enthusiastic idiots(according to them) absolutely HAVE to check their best stuff and sting as many fish as possible...... a good information exploiter only shows up after 10AM on the second day of practice. Then they slither into the prime areas(that they already know from their information sources) around noon on the second day of practice and get at least one bite in each area to..."make sure they are there"...then jerk around the rest of the day getting off the water around dinner time and making time for tippin' a couple smooth ones at Outback while enjoying the savory Bloomin Onion that catfish pro anglers are promoting there. Day 3 of practice for them is really a gap filler day, maybe look around the ramp for release fish for a couple hours, look where everyone else is fishing or even throw people off by drawing attention to some moronic location by pretending to set the hook repeatedly on nothing,... then go in and rig tackle early confident in their predetermined strategy. To me it's kind of like the movie "Office Space"......if you were to really summarize the amount of "actual" practice put in during a practice period for a good info exploiter, it's actually about 20 minutes in 3 days. Sounds crazy but it's the truth!
Contrary to that, if you do not have a network of information, you are always struggling to make use of your time. Big lakes, bad weather, mechanical issue, illness or whatever can be detrimental to the 2.25 days(because the BASS or PAA meeting on the third day requires you to go in early) of practice periods. One missed span of time due to whatever can cross you up and send you off on an unproductive tangent ultimately leading to your tournament or confidence demise. Therefore, you end up whimsically fishing patterns without enough key spots waiting for the environment to key you into a subtlety that may give you an edge....that usually concludes in a top-fifty check but not a win. To win at any Tour level event...... I take that thought back....Okay, more top tens are made by being dialed in from minute one....BUT, more tournaments are WON by something expanded on during or due to the surrounding circumstances of the event......that is where and when experience, information and opportunity collide.
To sum it all up, the day off before allows me to get better sleep, maximize my practice, do a little promotional work on my day off, get a little workout in, eat properly leading up to the event, have time to analyze my makeshift strategy, organize and shine my equipment and overall feel better prepared. Another big reason I like it that I didn't even touch on is the "fish security". If the fish were relentlessly getting pounded right up to the last minute before the event, then the weights will generally be less. This gives them a much needed break and makes them GREEN and BITING, just the way we like them. The day off may also add an element of unpredictability to the angler's hopes if the weather changes and patterns change in the meantime, all the more reason to show off the more adaptable and versatile angler that comes out on top, not the one with the best information. Mostly, I just feel it is counterproductive to the entirety of the reason you are there if you feel like a spun-out zombie going into the first day of the event.....unless, that is, if you have all that knowledge prior to arrival allowing you to sleep confident and well during the practice period....then you are one up already....-dw