Winning Bass Tournaments – Denny Brauer on Decision Making
The Magic Spot
Editor’s Note: To compete and win in the BASS Elite Series, win a Bassmaster Classic or earn the title of Angler of the Year, you must be able to determine the most-productive fishing tactic to use every day you fish. This week, Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame member Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri, the BASS Angler of the year in 1987, the winner of the Bassmaster Classic in 1998, and the FLW Angler of the year in 1998, will tell us how he makes the difficult decisions on the water every day that helps him win at bass fishing and earn almost $2-1/2-million winning tournaments.
Question: Denny, the first decision a bass fisherman has to make, especially a tournament bass fisherman, is whether to fish close to the boat ramp or make a long run. How do you make this decision?
Brauer: I start by looking at the lake I’ll be fishing on that day. I look at my options and the expected lake conditions on the day we’ll be fishing. Most of the time when a fisherman makes a long run, he’s trying to escape fishing and spectator pressure. However, on many lakes, if you make a long run, you still won’t be able to get away from this pressure. You may actually be running to more fishing pressure. I’ve had situations where I’ve made a long run, and then when I’ve reached the spot, I’ve found another big-bass tournament being held in that area on that day. There are many-different factors I examine before I make a long run. If I’ll be taking a chance and giving up fishing time to make a long run, I want to have the confident assurance that at the end of the long run, I’ll catch more and bigger bass.
On some of the lakes we fish, the best overlooked water is close to the boat ramp, just like oftentimes the best hunting will be found in the spot that receives the least hunting pressure, which is generally close to the gate entrance on many hunting lands. I don’t like to fish in a crowd, which plays a major part in my decision-making process. I search for a site, whether close to the ramp or far away, where I’ll see few, if any, other anglers. On many of our tournament lakes, I’ve selected hidden fishing spots where I can get away from the competitors and the spectators. Or, I may run an hour from the boat ramp. Since most fishermen won’t make runs this far, it’s almost guaranteed I’ll reach a secluded site where I can fish different patterns, locate the bass and catch them. I try to pinpoint bass that haven’t been pressured by a large group of other fishermen.
Also, in my decision-making process, I consider the cover available and the location of that cover on the lake I’ll be fishing. A lake with a tremendous amount of habitat and cover and productive offshore and inshore places where bass will be holding is known as a lake that fishes big. On those types of lakes, you often don’t have to run far from the boat ramp to locate a site where other anglers aren’t fishing. The primary factor that determines where I’ll be fishing every day isn’t where I can find and catch the most fish, but where on that lake I can win the tournament. I’m not worried about how close or how far away the spot is located; I’m just looking for that magic place.
I’m not focused on the weigh-in or the points. I’m just fishing to win. So, I’ll only fish areas that offer me the best chances to win, which are regions where I can catch the most and biggest bass. My decision on where I’ll fish doesn’t relate to the amount of travel or fishing time. In every tournament in which I compete, my primary decision is finding the place where I can fish to win.
Tomorrow: Lures – When to Change ‘Em