I've lived in the Ozark region for about nine years now. I have never seen it get as cold out of all those years as it did this year. For those up north, it was business as usual. It was a week of staying home for those in the Midwest, with the heat turned up slightly higher than expected. For those down south, it was quite possibly the end times.
Last week on the Lake of the Ozarks, we had the Toyota series Tournament. Each morning of that tournament, the Lakerefroze, making for a unique take-off. One that many of those fishing had not experienced. Though with a 60 lb. total weight brought in to take first proves that someone will catch them no matter the circumstances.
Now that the cold weather is on its way out and the warm weather is slowly creeping in, the time to get out and fish is upon us. Before you throw your poles in the boat and head out to your favorite honey hole, take a moment and ask yourself, "what would you like to learn this year?"
When I joined the Marines, I put most of my hobbies on the back burner. I wanted to learn everything I could about being a Marine and perfecting my combat abilities. When I returned from my last tour in Afghanistan, I requested to train Marines next. The Marine Corp granted my wish and sent me to Fort Leonard Wood. Fort Lost in the Woods is what we called it due to the base being in the middle of nowhere.
Not long after arriving, a friend told me about a little lake that was just a short drive from the base. That lake just happened to be the Lake of the Ozarks. It didn't take long before I was in a boat and flying to my first spot in a local tournament. I found out quickly that I had to learn how to throw a jig if I wanted to compete with the legends that fish on this lake. Up to that point, I never really threw one. Whenever I tried, I would put it down after a few casts because it just didn't feel right. I was not comfortable with this technique, and I thought it was not for me. My ability to catch fish did not improve on the lake. One day, I decided that I was only bringing poles with jigs tied up the next time I went out, and I was not leaving until I caught a fish on a jig. That day changed how I would fish from then on. Now, I do not go fishing without having a jig tied on, regardless of the time of the year.
So, what do you want to learn? Is there a technique that you have wanted to try but don't know where to start? Make this year the year you learn that technique. YouTube has an unlimited number of videos on whatever you could want to learn in bass fishing. It can all seem overwhelming, especially since everyone has a different take on how they do things. Don't let it push you away from making yourself better. Pick someone you can relate to and see if they talk about what you are looking to learn. If they don't have a video over that topic, then drop a comment and ask. Whenever someone leaves a comment on my channel and asks if I would do a video on a topic, I will go out of my way to make that video as fast as I can for them.
Have you wanted to try your luck at fishing tournaments but not sure where to start? Check Facebook for your local lake. There is bound to be a page or two that promotes tournaments that will take place on your lake. You can also look for local bass clubs. Individuals that are in these clubs are usually a small group of guys that have been fishing for a long time together. You can join these clubs by paying a small yearly fee. Most are around $40. When you are a part of these clubs, you will be able to fish as a co-angler if you do not have a boat of your own. Being a co-angler in a small club is a great way to get out and learn how to fish in tournaments.
Maybe you want to purchase a boat, and you have no idea how to operate one. Perhaps you know how to run a bass boat, but you don't know how to back up a trailer. These local clubs can help out as well as YouTube. The biggest hurdle to learning a new skill or advancing in the sport of fishing is leaving your ego behind and ask for help. Any angler worth their salt will take the time to help out someone trying to learn, but if you strike out on all these avenues, leave a comment here or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than happy to help!
In the next blog, I will go over some pre-spawn baits to use and where those little green fish will be at this time of the year.
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