Use Your Mind!
So, how do we become better fisherman through the use of our minds? In countless ways. The first step to successful fishing is mental preparation. Do you remember in your younger days when a coach pounded on you to put your game face on? Well, I only have one face and cannot change it but his message was simple. Before you begin any competition you must be mentally ready to participate. What exactly does that mean? It means different things to different people. To some is means quiet time to collect their thoughts. To others is means a ritual pattern of behavior. And to still others it means getting pumped up emotionally.
What do you do the night before a tournament? Do you stay up all hours in order to get your tackle and boat ready? If so, get off the water earlier. There is such a thing as too much practice. There is a point of diminishing returns that actually can damage performance. Despite what you read about a few professional athletes, most do not go out a party the night before the game. Your body will make you pay in numerous ways if you do not get adequate sleep. Mentally, you will not be as sharp. It will be harder to maintain a competitive edge all day long and you will lose some of your reflex reaction time. It could be the difference between a pay check and a long ride home!
To be a successful angler you must get ready to fish. It involves much more than simply slinging your boat into the water and firing up the engine. If you are a quiet time person like me, get your boat in the water FIRST. Beat everyone on the water. Recently, on the Red River at Shreveport, my boat was launched by 0345. I was tied up and at my truck before there was any sign of another boat. That gave me a great deal of time to slowly collect my thoughts on how I planned to approach the day and on my fishing techniques. Many times, I simply go back to sleep in my truck or at least close my eyes and visualize the day (but that is another column!). How many of you love sitting in a half mile long line at the ramp? That never helps me get ready for the day.
If you are ritual fisherman make sure nothing gets in your way. Dot allow friends, partners for the day or other fisherman disrupt your pattern. Do everything the same way every time: WITHOUT exception. The exception, will be the day you have a chance to win it all and fall just short. All of us have rituals and superstitions. Every athlete does, sometimes though, we call them different things. No matter what you call it, we all feel uncomfortable when these patterns are broken. Dont let that happen.
Finally, if you (unlike me) need interaction with other fisherman to begin your day and have a need to see and be seen before a tournament begins. Do it in a big way. There are some of you that want to make sure all of us know you are on the water and ready to go. There is nothing wrong with that if it is what it takes to get you ready. Drop your trolling motor, scoot around the marina takeoff area and talk to everyone you need to. Get pumped up and ready to go.
If you plan on being successful in any sport you MUST have the energy to participate. Very few athletes jump out of bed, hurry to the site of the competition and then jump right in. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST. You define good but make sure you eat! Your mind will not be fully prepared for dealing with days stresses and pressures if you are working on an empty stomach.
The bottom line on all of this is that you must do the things that make you comfortable and ready of a hard day of fishing. Whatever that takes, you must do it every time if you plan on being successful.