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Professional Bass Fisherman Mark Davis Tells Us How to Improve Our Fishing

Mark Davis Tells How He’s Improved His Bass Fishing in 2010 and Video Names Three Best Stained-Water Baits

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, had the worst year in 2009 of his fishing career. But this year, he’s returned to professional bass fishing with a vengeance. In the last two Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments, he took two 8th-place finish checks home with him, one at Clarks Hill and one at Lake Guntersville. Mark has made one of the biggest turnarounds in his professional fishing career that anyone has seen. All of us go through slumps. We all get down on ourselves about bass fishing. We’ve asked Mark Davis how he’s come back from a lousy fishing year to having a great fishing year.

Question: Mark, you better than anyone else this year, should be able to tell us how to turn a bad year of bass fishing around and come back strong with a good year of bass fishing the next year. You’ve done a complete about-face in your fishing career this season so far. Click to enlarge
Davis: You have to remember, I’ve been competitively fishing for 25 years, and I’ve won a lot of big tournaments. Letting your guard down, getting a little complacent and slacking-off can be easy. That was the kind of season I had last year. You may not realize you’re slacking-off. When I look back on last year and say, “Where did it all go wrong?” I know I went out every day and fished as hard as I could, even though I had a bummer of a season. Sometimes fishing as hard as you can isn’t enough to consistently do well in bass fishing. Many times, you have to go the extra mile like a rookie does who wants to win a position on a professional football team. You have to be more prepared than the other fishermen by visiting the lakes ahead of time, so you can be familiar with the lakes. Then you have to work extremely hard in practice to know what the fish are doing, where they should be, and what they should bite.

But at the end of the day, getting better at bass fishing comes down to making better decisions on the water when you’re fishing. You may have more knowledge than any other fisherman on the lake, and you may work harder than any other fisherman in the tournament. But, if you don’t make good decisions during the time the tournament is being conducted, you’re not going to have a good season. I know this sounds simple and trite, but I’ve made better decisions on the water this year than I did last year. Click to enlarge

Question: Okay, Mark, what has caused you to make better decisions on the water? Give me an example.
Davis: You have to be thinking not only during the tournament, but before, after each day of fishing and the whole time you’re involved in that tournament about what you’ll do if fishing conditions change. Fishing conditions change daily and sometimes even hourly. You’ve got to be tuned-in to when those occasions occur and plan for how you’ll adapt to changes in water color, cloud cover, wind, waves and many other factors that are part of the fishing environment. When those changes occur, and you realize they have, you already know what you’re going to do, since you’ve been thinking and planning for those changes. There are a lot of variables in fishing, and the people who win the most consistently are the ones who are aware of changing fishing conditions and have already planned how they’ll adapt to those conditions throughout the day.Click to enlarge

A lot of this decision-making process comes with experience. Many times, the decision may be to throw-out everything you’ve been doing and every way you’ve thought you’ll catch fish on this particular lake at this time and start all over again. You need to analyze the conditions, the type of cover you have to fish, the places where you’ll find the fish and the way they’re positioned on the structure or in the cover. You have to be willing to spend a day fishing in an area you’ve never fished before, because the conditions are right for that region. These ingredients are the ones that come together to allow you to make good decisions. I don’t believe anyone can give you a 1-2-3 “here’s what you should do” list to make better decisions on the water. But there’s one thing I can tell you that may help. Always remember that fishing conditions change throughout the day, and you have to be willing to make the decisions that need to be made to adapt your fishing to those changes.

Question: Mark, what was the difference in your decision-making process between this year and last year?
Davis: I don’t know exactly how to answer that. But maybe this will help. We need to remember that bass fishing is a sport. The only difference in our sport and other sports is we don’t have a ball. However, many of the same factors that relate to football, baseball and basketball also relate to bass fishing. All of us understand the phrase “in the zone.” When a basketball player is “in the zone,” he can shoot from half-court and ring the basket. He’s got confidence in what he’s doing, he believes in his ability with the unknown, and he’s got the courage to follow that inner voice that no-one else can hear. If a player “in the zone” believes he can make a half-court shot, he’ll make that shot. If a golfer believes that he can make a 30-yard putt, he’ll make that putt. So the first thing that has to happen to make right decisions on the water is you have to believe you can make right decisions on the water, even if your past history may suggest you can’t. Whether you’re a beginning angler, or you’ve been bass fishing for 25-30 years, making right decisions begins with your ability to believe you can, will and do make right decisions. So, I started out the 2010 season remembering the years that I had made right decisions and knowing that I had the ability to make those decisions back then. Somewhere deep inside me I knew I still had the ability to make right decisions on the water in the future. Confidence is the beginning point for making right decisions.

Also, fishing is a game of momentum. Once you start catching fish and winning tournaments, you have every reason to believe you can continue to catch bass and do well in tournaments. So momentum is another great ingredient to help a fishermen make correct decisions each day he’s on the water.

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Tomorrow: Learn Five Changes You Can Make to Come Out of a Fishing Slump with Mark Davis and See Video on What to Do When Your Bass-Fishing Pattern Is Blown

Check back each day this week for more about "Professional Bass Fisherman Mark Davis Tells Us How to Improve Our Fishing"

Day 1: Mark Davis Tells the Importance of Making Even Small Differences in Your Fishing and a Video with Davis Shows How to Find Bass before a Tournament
Day 2: When Mark Davis Caught More Than 100 Bass a Day at Lake Guntersville and Davis’s Video Tells Three Favorite Baits for Fishing Clear Water
Day 3: Mark Davis Fishes the Rage Lizard at Clarks Hill and Davis’s Video Names Three Favorite Baits for Muddy Water
Day 4: Mark Davis Tells How He’s Improved His Bass Fishing in 2010 and Video Names Three Best Stained-Water Baits
Day 5: Learn Five Changes You Can Make to Come Out of a Fishing Slump with Mark Davis and See Video on What to Do When Your Bass-Fishing Pattern Is Blown


Entry 564, Day 4