John's Journal...

Top Professional Bass Fishermen Say, We Fish to Win

Rick Clunn Fishes to Win

Click to enlarge Editor's Note: Why do some bass fishermen consistently win tournaments and other good, even great, bass anglers never win tournaments? To learn the answer to this question, I’ve interviewed some of the most-outstanding bass fishermen in the nation, and they all agree that to win an angler has to make a conscious decision to fish to win and leave the security of trying to catch a limit behind.

"I can’t believe you made a 50-mile run to reach a spot where you knew you only could fish for 1-1/2-hours," I told Rick Clunn, a four-time Bassmaster Classic winner, years ago when he won a $100,000 tournament on Lake Mead near Las Vegas, Nevada. “You would’ve earned a pretty good paycheck in fifth place, if you’d just caught enough bass to hold your position. But if the fish hadn’t been there after that long run, you could’ve lost it all. Why did you take a big gamble like that to go for broke?”

Click to enlargeClunn said, "I always fish to win. No one remembers who came in second place, and second place isn’t an option for me. In bass tournaments, I fish to win." Clunn’s many tournament wins have proved that going for broke in life or in bass fishing separates the winners from the losers. But how does the fish-to-win philosophy affect the fishing of today’s tournament pros who have adopted this mindset? What areas and what type of lures do they fish to catch the biggest bass in any lake?

No one has won more major bass-fishing tournaments in his career than Rick Clunn of Ava, Missouri. "All fishermen practice and fish to place themselves in position to win tournaments," Clunn explains. "However, at some point, you have to consciously make the decision to win. Psychologically, most of us feel that there are very-few events that will allow us to win. Many tournament fishermen believe that if they're fishing 14 tournaments a year they need to make their checks and build points in each tournament to be in the end-of-the-season championship. That’s their number-one concern – not to win.

“I’m convinced that most tournament anglers never make theClick to enlarge conscious decision to fish to win. There's a vast difference between preparing to win and trying to win. Whether in fishing or life, most of us are preparing to be successful; however, we never make a conscious effort to flip the switch from preparing for success to actually attempting success. All this preparation creates a mindset of winning tomorrow, instead of today. To win bass tournaments, the fisherman has to decide to win that day, regardless of what's required for him to win."

What has to happen for a fisherman to shift gears and go for the win? Generally, the angler has to decide that he can't win fishing the location he's fishing and catching the size bass for which he's fishing. He has to willingly to give up the sure limit, the points and the check and search for bass in a place he never may have fished previously, using lures and tactics he may not have used before on that lake, under those conditions.

"You have to be a gambler," Clunn emphasizes. "You have to be willing to give up a sure limit and instead attempt to find the big bass that are required to win. If you don't have the courage and aren’t willing to gamble on the chance to win, you'll never win a bass tournament. You have to fish where no one else has fished before, look for bass where no one else has searched for them and often fish a tactic no one else will. To win, you must abandon conventional thinkinClick to enlargeg and reasoning. A bass-fishing tournament winner has to be able to think creatively and make decisions courageously, even at the risk of being foolish. The hardest decision a fisherman has to make is to fish to win today and not tomorrow. Many of my losses have happened because I’ve left the area where I’ve been catching big fish, trying to save them for tomorrow."

For instance, Clunn lost a tournament on the first day at Lake Champlain one year. He had a 17-pound stringer of bass, and over the next two days, he caught over 20 pounds of bass, losing the tournament by 1 pound. "That philosophy of preparing to win tomorrow cost me that tournament," Clunn recalls. "I should have stayed on that spot and continued to catch the biggest bass I could that day, instead of attempting to save those fish for the rest of the tournament. To win a tournament, you have to decide that there is no tomorrow. You have to believe, ‘Today’s the only day I have to win, so I have to maximize my catch today and win today.’ You have to fish every tournament as if it’s the only tournament you'll fish in your life, and you have to fish to win every day of the tournament. If you look back at the history of bass fishing, the anglers who've won the most tournaments are the ones who’ve decided to try to win each day they’ve fished.”

Tomorrow: Denny Brauer’s Gambling Attitude When He Fishes

Check back each day this week for more about "Top Professional Bass Fishermen Say, We Fish to Win"

Day 1: Rick Clunn Fishes to Win
Day 2: Denny Brauer’s Gambling Attitude When He Fishes
Day 3: Michael Iaconelli Fishes for Certain Size-Sized Bass
Day 4: Research Tactics from Alabama’s Hot Young Pros
Day 5: Target Fishing with Top-Pro Kevin VanDam



Entry 398, Day 1