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John's Journal... Entry 243, Day 4


Having To Share Water

Editor's Note: The most-difficult question for a bass fisherman to answer is, "How do you know when to change lures, when to change water and when to change fishing techniques?" Often the difference in catching bass and not catching bass is your ability to know when to change. Making the right decisions at the correct times will spell victory or defeat for a tournament bass fisherman or a weekend angler. On Table Rock Lake in Missouri, during the second week of March, Mark Davis' ability to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em was the reason he won $100,000 in the BASS tournament there. If you'll read each day's upload this week, you'll see how Davis made those critical decisions at the right time each day to catch more bass than the best 150 fishermen in the nation. This week's information may be some of the most important you'll learn about catching bass. So, don't miss a day this week.

Question: What happened on the third day of the tournament?
Davis: Twelve anglers had made the cut to fish on day three. When I returned to the creeks I'd fished the day before, I found that several other competitors' boats already were in the creeks I'd planned to fish. Tom Burns and I were fishing a lot of the same water. So, I knew that there wasn't enough bass in the creek I wanted to fish for both of us to produce winning stringers. Because of the fishing pressure in this creek, I decided to change water again.

Question: What did you decide to do? Davis: I went to a new creek that I'd not fished in practice and hadn't fished during the tournament. I caught two really-nice bass that were keepers in that creek and couldn't get any other bass to bite. So I fished four or five other creeks and still didn't get a bite. Finally I went to another creek that I hadn't fished at all before because the water color in this creek wasn't what I'd planned to fish, but now the water had some stain in it that matched the pattern I'd established the day before. Immediately I caught two bass on the same Series 3 crankbait that I'd fished with on the second day of the tournament in the same chartreuse root beer colors. My partner for the day was an amateur who was catching quite a few bass on an antique Wiggle Wart crankbait that the company doesn't even make any more. I tied one of those Wiggle Warts on at the end of the day, and I caught a couple of bass on it, too. So, now I had a limit of bass, and I was feeling good about the day.

Question: On the third day, how many pounds of bass did you weigh in?
Davis: I had just a little bit shy of 17 pounds and was still in second place.

Question: Why did the Wiggle Wart work?
Davis: To be honest, the White River, Table Rock and Bull Shoals lakes have historically been to the great lakes for fishing the old Wiggle Wart. There's just something about the size and the action of that old lure that seem to make bass on this lake bite. This particular bait was an orange-crawfish color, which was a color I didn't use during practice or on any day during the tournament. One of the advantages that Strike King pro fishermen have that many other tournament anglers don't have who are sponsored by other lure companies is that we've helped design the Strike King lures.

Too, the people at Strike King have told all of us, "You use the lures that you feel will best help you win a tournament when you're fishing in a tournament. Naturally we want you to use Strike King lures, but if there's another bait you feel will help you win, you use whatever bait you have to use to win." So I didn't hesitate to use the Wiggle Wart, even though I'm sponsored by Strike King. Up until that point, I'd caught all the fish in the tournament that had put me in a position to win on Strike King lures. But, my partner on the third day won the amateur side of the tournament fishing the Wiggle Wart. Now, I'd be dumb as a rock not to fish the same lure on which he was catching all his bass. I felt I had a really good shot at winning that last day if I planned to fish both the Series 3 crankbait and the Wiggle Wart.

Question: Even though you were 2 pounds back in second place, why did you think you could win?
Davis: I felt that the odds were in my favor. I'd made all the adjustments at the right time to find and catch some of the biggest bass in the tournament. I also knew that putting together a good stringer of bass every day of the tournament would be really difficult. But when I found those bass late on the third day, I felt confident that I could return to this creek and use the two lures I'd established they would bite and catch bass on the last day of the tournament. I didn't really believe that the other contenders' fish would hold up for that final day.

Question: How did you sleep that third night before the last day of the tournament?
Davis: I slept pretty well, considering I had the flu or a virus and a high fever. I took a couple of medicines. I got some sleep, but I felt pretty miserable.

Question: How do you get yourself up for a tournament, especially the last day of the tournament, when you're sick as a dog?
Davis: I think that adrenaline took over. I was excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities of winning the tournament. So, I believe that the excitement, the nervousness, enthusiasm and the adrenaline all over-powered my flu. Even though I was very excited, I was also very calm because I knew where I was going to go, how I planned to fish, what baits I would use and which game plan I would bet on to win. I knew how to give this tournament my best on the last day. So, win or lose, I knew if I gave it my best effort I'd feel good about that last day of fishing. Actually I was more concerned about mechanical problems than I was my fishing skills. I had to make a 45-minute run one way to get to the area I was fishing. I knew I was the only person in the finals who would be making that big run and betting on those bass so far away from the takeoff point.

Question: What made that water so far away so attractive?
Davis: I had a lot of different areas in this part of the lake from which to choose. I had a lot of creeks, pockets and bays that had fish in them. However, the biggest factor was not the lure nor the technique but rather was finding the right water color where the bass would be holding. This particular part of the lake had much-dingier water than the other parts of the lake do. The other parts of the lake were clearing, but this one area was staying dingier, and I was on a dirty-water pattern.

Visit the Strike King Web site to learn more.




Check back each day this week for more about MARK DAVIS - BASS FISHING'S TOUGHEST QUESTIONS ANSWERED ...

Day 1 - Establishing the Pattern
Day 2 - Throw It All Out The Window
Day 3 - Throw It All Out The Window Again
Day 4 - Having To Share Water
Day 5 - Knowing When To Hold 'Em And When To Fold 'Em Pays Off

John's Journal