Denny Brauer – Preparing the Tournament
Before I Get to the Lake
Note: If Denny Brauer of Camdenton, Missouri, was a
chess master, he’d be one of the best in the world.
Tournament bass fishing is much like a game of chess
in that you have to lay out a battle strategy first
with plenty of options, so that you can react and move
properly, depending on your opponent’s plan. Over
the years, Brauer has proved he knows how to play the
game. In mid-July 2006, Denny Brauer passed the $2 million
mark in earnings for tournament fishing on the Bassmaster’s
tournament circuit. The only other angler to achieve
this goal is Kevin VanDam, who’s also a Strike
King pro. No one ever can doubt that these two anglers
know how to find and catch bass anywhere in the country,
under any water and weather conditions and against the
toughest competition in the nation. As most athletic
coaches know, preparation is the key to winning. This
week, we’ll talk with Brauer about how he prepares
to fish the Lake Champlain tournament, and what he does
Denny, you’re pre-fishing for which tournament
Brauer: The Lake Champlain New York CITGO Bassmaster
Elite Series’ tournament.
Question: Denny, when you pre-fish, what are you trying
Brauer: I want to figure out where the bass are, and
what types of patterns will prove best to catch them,
once I locate them.
Question: On a lake like Champlain, what lures will
you use to find and catch bass?
Brauer: On Lake Champlain, you have one more piece to
the puzzle, and that’s to determine what type
of bass you’re planning to target. This lake has
both smallmouth and largemouth bass. If you decide to
fish for smallmouth bass, you have to take a very different
set of rods with you than if you’re going to fish
for largemouth bass. Even before I get to the
lake, I have to decide what type of bass I’m going
to fish for, so I’ll know what type of gear to
take with me.
Question: What’s the advantage to fishing for
largemouth on a smallmouth lake?
Brauer: The largemouth bass will weigh on average more
than smallmouth bass do. Finding a good concentration
of largemouth bass will be more difficult than locating
a good concentration of smallmouth bass. These lakes
up in the North are predominantly smallmouth lakes.
If I decide to fish for largemouths, I’m going
against the grain. I’ll be fishing for a smaller
population of fish, but, if I can find them, I’m
hoping for bigger fish in that smaller population. If
I can get the largemouth figured out, I may have the
possibility of putting a 20-pound, five-fish bag limit
together. Catching five smallmouths that weigh 20 pounds
will be very difficult. I have to decide, “Do
I think I can put a limit of 5-pound largemouth together
every day for four days, or, will I be better off fishing
for the easier fish, the smallmouth, and hope I can
catch big ones? Am I better off to try to put 15 pounds
of smallmouth in my bag every day for four days? On
the other hand, will I be better off to try to put 20
pounds of largemouth in my bag each day for four days?”
There’s plenty of decision-making that happens
on a lake like Champlain. A tournament usually boils
down to the winner being the one who guessed right.
Question: Denny, how will you make the decision on
whether to fish for largemouth or smallmouth?
Brauer: Another factor that goes into the decision-making
process is which one of these two species of bass do
you feel like you know most about and can catch the
most? For me, I know I’m a better largemouth angler
than a smallmouth angler. So, I know I need to target
those fish. However, I have to be very careful because
I really enjoy catching smallmouth. I have to decide
whether this tournament is going to be a work trip or
a vacation trip. If it is in fact a work trip where
I’m trying to earn a living for my family, I know
I have to fish for largemouth bass. If I get tired of
fishing for largemouth bass and start fishing for smallmouth
bass because I know I can catch them and they’re
fun to catch, I’ve just turned my work trip into
a vacation trip.
So, you have to keep your head in the game and not yield
into the temptation of fishing for smallmouth, right?
Brauer: That’s the game plan right now, and I’m
going to try to stick to that plan. I’ll locate
a couple of small spots just in case I get into trouble.
I also have to keep in mind the point situation for
Angler-of-the-Year, and I don’t want to gamble
on not making the Bassmasters Classic. The other factor
I have to consider is the weather. Lake Champlain is
a huge lake and can get extremely rough. Some of these
largemouth regions are very susceptible to rough weather,
which can prohibit me from getting to them. That rough
weather also affects these largemouth bass detrimentally.
There’s plenty of decision-making that has to
take place on a lake like Lake Champlain, even before
you get there. Many of these decisions won’t have
to be faced if we’re fishing another lake.
As we continue through the week, consider how the
mind of a master works, and you’ll see that the
art of tournament bass fishing is more mental than physical.
Sure, catching bass is important, but planning how,
where and when, and being flexible enough to change
your game plan based on changing water and weather conditions
are all part of the tournament-winning strategy.
Tomorrow: How Will You Find
the Big Bass?