John's Journal...

Jay Yelas on How to Catch Bass When You’re Having a Bad Day

Day 1: Jay Yelas Says Adversity Is a Bass Fisherman’s Always Companion

Editor’s Note: Jay Yelas from Corvallis, Oregon, has been a professional tournament fisherman since 1989 when he began his fishing career on the B.A.S.S. circuit. Yelas has won: the Bassmaster Classic in 2002 on Lay Lake in Alabama; the prestigious B.A.S.S. Angler-of-the-Year title in 2002; the Angler-of-the-Year title twice on the FLW tournament circuit; and in 2003, an ESPY Award presented by ESPN to the top outdoor athlete of the year. Today Yelas is still actively fishing the FLW tournament circuit and is a member of Punisher Lures’ ( Pro Staff. And, as Yelas explains, “I’ve got lots of examples of how to catch good bass on bad days.”

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewBass fishermen are always dealing with some type of adversity. Rarely does everything go your way, and you have a great day on the water and catch enough bass to win a bass tournament. You have equipment breakdowns, bass move from where you’ve found them, the weather changes, the water rises or falls, the wind blows, or it doesn’t. But I’ve been lucky enough to learn how to catch good bass on bad days.

One of the biggest problems is weather. I remember one day when I was in a bass tournament on the Lake of the Ozarks in 1997 that I later won. A snowstorm blew in, and I had 4 inches of snow in my boat. Many of the tournament anglers gave up and came in early. Most of the contestants were mentally defeated by the snow. Let’s face it, no one likes to fish in a snow storm, especially the first week of November. No one was expecting blizzard conditions.

I knew I couldn’t run very far in my boat, because I couldn’t see very far. I was so cold I had to fish while wearing gloves. I stayed close to the shore and started catching bass on jigs at boat docks. On the last day when the snow was really heavy, I caught 18 pounds of bass and won the tournament. I learned in that tournament that regardless of how bad the weather might be, you have to keep a positive outlook and still expect to catch a bass on the next cast. I couldn’t let the cold, frigid weather defeat me. I was at my work, doing my job on a day when I’d never go bass fishing for fun. The wind even was blowing 30 miles an hour, blowing the snow sideways.

I’ll admit. I was a lot younger back then and probably a lot tougher! And, I needed to win or place high in the standings to feed my family. I don’t know now, at age 49, if I still have that same kind of grit. I had such a will to win that tournament that I was able to invoke mind over matter to stay out in that weather.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewBut the other secret to positively dealing with bad-weather days on the water is to make sure you have proper clothing. You’ve got to have a good head covering, you’ve got to become comfortable fishing with gloves on, and you have to have a quality pair of boots. The weather was so cold I put handwarmers in my gloves to keep my hands warm and functioning. My fingertips and my hands are the parts of my body that are first to react to really cold weather, which makes casting, setting the hook and reeling in the bass difficult. That’s the reason I always carry Neoprene gloves and handwarmers with me when I know I’ll be fishing in bad weather. And of course the problem is, you never know when bad weather may hit. So, I make sure whenever I leave home that I always have quality, warm, weatherproof clothing with me.

And on a very bad day, I’ve learned to stay close to the launch ramp, fish the docks I can see, stay as warm as possible and mentally decide not to let the weather affect my fishing. One of the advantages to fishing in severe weather is that most of the anglers will give up mentally, which drastically reduces the number of competitors that you have to try to beat. When most competitors are mentally out of the game, the fisherman who can stay positive in negative weather has the best chance of winning.

I also learned from that experience at this Lake of the Ozarks tournament that bass usually really would bite well in the snow. I’ve only had to fish in the snow in about a half a dozen tournaments. But in each one of those tournaments I’ve done really well. When a front comes through, and the snow falls, the sky’s usually dark and overcast. Then the bass will become extremely active. Therefore if you’re brave enough to fish in the snow, you possibly may have a great day of bass fishing on a bad-weather day.

Jay Yelas talks about catching bass under bad conditions:

For more information about Jay Yelas, check out

To learn more about bass fishing, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and some print books, “How to Bass Fish Like a Pro,” “How to Win a Bass Tournament,” “Catch the Most and Biggest Bass in Any Lake: 18 Pro Fishermen’s Best Tactics, “Hot Weather Bass Tactics” and “How to Become A Tournament Bass Fisherman,” go to, type in the names of the books, and download them to your Kindle and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Jay Yelas Explains How to Farm for High Water Bass

Check back each day this week for more about Jay Yelas on How to Catch Bass When You’re Having a Bad Day"

Day 1: Jay Yelas Says Adversity Is a Bass Fisherman’s Always Companion
Day 2: Jay Yelas Explains How to Farm for High Water Bass
Day 3: What To Do When Your Best Bass Fishing Spot Gets Killed with Jay Yelas
Day 4: Jay Yelas Says You Will Have Equipment Breakdowns While Bass Fishing
Day 5: Jay Yelas Says Losing Big Bass Is a Bad Day of Fishing But You Can Solve That Problem

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Entry 797, Day 1