Chasing largemouth bass for well over 37 years you definitely learn a thing a two. One thing you learn quickly is that if you can catch big bass consistently, you become somewhat of a fishing icon. In my world this has happened to me multiple times, but what is the truth behind people who catch big bass consistently? Well it’s time to spill the beans and spell it out.
When it come to bass fishing, I have become so obsessed at times that it seems like almost nothing else in the world matters but fishing. I was just telling a friend the other day that looking back on my days of hunting for big bass, I was definitely obsessed, almost as if I was under a spell. But this focus isn’t why I really catch big bass consistently.
I believe the true reason why any person can be a consistent big bass catching machine is due to the amount of time they are willing to spend on the water. This is by far the truth of why I have been able to catch so many large bass in my “career.”
When I would catch a large bass in the past, and it got in the newspaper, I would often tell people that it should have read, “Mike Long, 12 lb bass, 42 hours.” Unfortunately, the news reports would only state your name and weight of the bass. Play this idea out and you start to arrive at a better understanding: If you fished fifty hours over a week and caught one bass over ten pounds, and then you did this each week for a month, and caught a total of four bass over ten pounds, and no one realized how much time you had invested overall, you start to look like the king of big bass fishing. All they see is that you caught four fish over ten pounds in a month and think you’re on to some secret technique that yields big fish all the time.
“Time on the water” is a phrase you will here at almost any bass seminar, or in any article you read about catching big bass. There is a reason for this: it is the truth! When I look back on my life and what I have experienced in bass fishing, it all has to do with how much time I was willing to invest and spend on the water hunting giants. If I really look back at the time I spent though, it did not always pay off.
I have caught hundreds of bass over ten pounds, but if you do the math for 37 years and how many hours invested in each fish, I have not done that well.
There are lots of “Big Bass Hunters” here in California. The main reason for that is all the lakes have potentially world class Florida strain largemouth bass in them that are fed almost pure protein Rainbow Trout that are easy to catch and easy to digest. We call these trout “candy bars” because they just melt in a bass’ mouth. The difference is in perspective. Big bass hunters that spend more hours on the lake understand that chucking a trout imitation swimbait for ten hours a day, five days a week, will put them in a high percentage bracket to catch a bass over ten pounds. So if a weekend big bass hunter comes in and spends two weekends chucking a swimbait and finally gets a big bass over ten, who was better? the guy who spent 50 hours for one ten pounder, or the guy who spent 40 hours for one. I think you get the point.
If you spend lots of time doing something in life, you also figure out some short cuts, and in the world of big bass fishing we all want that short cut. Basically the longer you spend sitting on a rock pile you start to recognize patterns that will help you on the next trip and so on…
This is what makes me who I am. I spend lots of time on the water, take good notes and pay close attention to the factors that truly drive the big bass to move around and feed. The weather, moon, and sun are the primary factors that make big bass migrate in a lake to feed and the more time you spend on the water, the more you will recognize the patterns.
Now after years of taking notes, and building basically a big bass map, with a schedule of when some of those big bass should be stopping in an area to feed, you’re in a better position to catch big bass. Simply put, all that the time you spent hunting these big bass will put you in a higher percentage bracket for catching them. You might catch two, or three over ten pounds in a 50 hour week, or even two over ten in a 20 hour weekend. You have now evolved to the next level of big bass fishing. And even though you have done some homework from years of hunting, the one primary factor still is time on the water.
Here in San Diego, California, we had a big bass fishing legend named Lunker Bill Murphy. This guy fished every chance he got. He was a structure fisherman who loved to sit on two or three rocks piles during a day, while stitching crawdads, worms, or jigs and this man did some serious damage on the big bass. Growing up watching this man, I recognized one thing right away though. He spent more time on the water than any other fisherman by far, no one came even close. Yes, you could say he was obsessed.
So at an early age I understood that to catch big bass consistently you have to spend lots of time on the water. The question though, is does this truly say you are the best? I guess that’s all dependent on how you want to look at it.
By Mike Long
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