John's Journal...


Larry Nixon, Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam

Click to enlargeEditor's Note: You're supposed to have fun when you fish for bass because most of us think of bass fishing as recreation. You don't expect to find yourself chained to a wall in a medieval dungeon to learn how much torture you can endure when you bass fish. However, many anglers who earn their livings professionally fishing for bass must go to work when they don't want to, fish in bad, nasty weather and endure sickness, disaster and disappointment as a part of their jobs. You may think you've had a bad day of fishing before or fished in a really bad bass tournament. But once you read the experiences of some of America's best bass fishermen and learn what's happened to them on their worst days of fishing, your bad day of bass fishing may not seem so horrible.

Larry Nixon:
Click to enlargeWith BASS career winnings total over $1,550,000, Larry Nixon, of Bee Branch, Arkansas, has proved that trying new tips and tactics can work. The 54-year-old 1983 Classic winner has won the title of Angler of the Year in 1980 and 1982. "The worst day of bass fishing I ever had was on the first day of the 1992 Bassmaster Classic on Logan Martin," Nixon reports. "I thought I'd found the bass that I needed to win the Classic. But the very first day when we took off from the launch site, I had about 50-spectator boats chasing me, as did Rick Clunn, Gary Klein and Kevin VanDam. None of us had ever seen an armada of spectators like we saw that day at that Classic. All four of us stopped our boats to start fishing within a mile of each other. For 1-1/2 hours, the water I fished in was so rough from the boat waves that I had to hold on to my butt seat on the casting deck just to keep from falling in. I couldn't stand up because my boat was rocking and rolling so bad from the boat traffic. I was so upset about the number of spectators and the amount of boat traffic and the waves they were creating that I finally cranked up my big engine and ran toward the dam into deep water. When I got there, I didn't even try to fish. I just stopped my boat, sat down on the casting deck and tried to get my head together to figure out what I was going to do with all those spectators while I was trying to fish. If I could have had someone pick me up on the I-40 bridge that crosses Logan Martin, I would have gone home at 9:00 a.m. on the first day of that Classic. I have never been so frustrated, aggravated, upset and wanted to quit a tournament more than that day on that lake."

Click to enlargeGerald Swindle: Thirty-four-year-old Gerald Swindle of Hayden, Alabama, the 2004 BASS Angler of the Year, has won over $380,000 just on the BASS tournament trail. "I can remember my worst day of fishing very well," Swindle recalls. "I was fishing a tournament on Lake Hamilton in Arkansas and had made the top-50 cut. Then I got food poisoning the night before the tournament, and on the day of the tournament I had the worst case of diarrhea I'd ever had. My stomach was torn up, and I was using the bathroom so often that I was concentrating more on my bathroom problems than I was my fishing. All day long, I continued to jump fish off, break bass off and miss bass that were trying to take my lure. I was having hot flashes, sweating and trying to catch those bass so I could win a position in the Bassmaster Classic. I realized that day in that boat that this day of bass fishing was the worse I'd ever had in my life. I've never been that sick since, had that many bites, had that many chances to do well in a tournament and felt that out of control. When I came in to the boat ramp at weigh-in time, I’d used up all the toilet paper in my boat and even torn up my underwear to use for toilet paper. When I wasn't having diarrhea problems, I was throwing up. I was really glad that both the front and the back of the boat had quick access to the water on either side. That day of bass fishing was the worse day of fishing I'd ever had, but it also was the worst day of my life."

Click to enlargeKevin VanDam: Thirty-six-year-old Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the BASS Angler-of-the-Year winner for 1992, 1996 and 1999, as well as the 2001 Bassmaster Classic winner, has all-time BASS winnings totaling more than $1,400,000. "I was fishing in a tournament on Lake Gaston in North Carolina, which is the lake below Buggs Island," VanDam explains. I'd had a phenomenal practice and was really planning to do well in the tournament. I'd found some really huge bass. The lake water was very dirty, and the water level was high. During the competition, the lake changed just a little bit. I was so locked into the pattern I was using and knew I could catch big fish on it, that I was hard-headed and wouldn't give up that pattern, even though I wasn't catching any bass. So, for three days I fished miserably and finished about 165th out of 300 anglers. You have to learn how to make those subtle changes in your fishing when the water and weather conditions change. If you haven't caught any bass by 10:00 a.m. on a pattern that you know should be producing a lot of big fish, you have to look at the weather and the water and decide what's going on and what changes are taking place that you haven't seen.

Then you must adapt your fishing to those changes. "During those three days on that tournament, I didn't do any of these things I knew to do or make any changes. Those were the worst three days of bass fishing of my life. However, I did learn from that mistake and have tried never to make it again."


Check back each day this week for more about MY WORST DAY OF BASS FISHING ...

Day 1 - Worst Days of Fishing for Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli and Kelly Jordon
Day 2 - Worst Days of Fishing for Gary Klein
Day 3 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing With Larry Nixon, Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam
Day 4 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing for Mike Wurm
Day 5 - Jay Yelas' Worst Day of Bass Fishing



Entry 262, Day 3