Things have been relatively quiet this week in the world of pro bass fishing. Weíve got the Classic coming up; always the highlight of my year as a press observer. Now, if I could just navigate the new B.A.S.S. website and find out who qualified, Iíd make a prediction. Look for that next week, I guess.
For now, I want to quickly chat about a recent video on the FLW site that covers the techniques used by Tour winner Bradley Hallman. FLW cameras got in the boat with the newly crowned champ immediately following his big win at Okeechobee, and Hallman went piece-by-piece through the puzzle.
I must say, Iím a huge fan of this type of journalism, and hope such efforts continue. Such work has been tried before; many veteran BassFans may remember the occasional breaks from regular programming of the old Bassmaster television show on TNN. There, winning pros would spend a day in the boat with Chuck Roberts, show off their techniques and essentially compile a precursor to todayís popular "Day on the Lake" magazine segment.
Denny Brauer appeared, I believe, as did Ken Cook and others. It was great; for the first time, I, as a young viewer, could climb in the boat with my hero. I remember taping the episodes and rewinding them over and over during moments when I could peer into a rod locker, or actually see the screen of a fishfinder. I felt as though I were there.
Fast-forward to todayís version, and my interests have changed with age. Now, I find myself studying Hallmanís lures and his selection of places to pitch. The focal point is more on the choices made by a pro that led to tournament victory. Gone is my idolization factor. Now, itís more just a tournament lesson and less fan-worship.
These short videos are quite descriptive; Hallman even pointed out exact locations where his best fish came from. Sure, he guided us around Okeechobee, where everything looks the same, but itís still cool to know that, if I were a local, I may recognize key features.
Hallman and the host fish a while and catch nothing, and, after learning more about Hallmanís approach, I chalk up his success to luck of the draw on Okeechobeeís monotonous grass flats. Or was it?
Hallman talked about lure choice and gave a quick look at his winning baits. Amazingly, a few tweaks and lure size modifications seemed to be his key. Later in the week, a lighter sinker also helped.
He talked about reed heads; how some contained floating trash while others featured large holes. Hallman went as far as to describe the coloration of the trash mats and give his theory as to why such subtleties could be so important.
Rods were discussed, including tips on weighting and balance, as well as the need for the proper action. Iíd imagine such is often overlooked by many flippers convinced the only proper rod power is extra-heavy.
Hallman even chimed in on the reasons behind his choice of fishing areas. Included was a little historical background, his practice results and the reasons he chose not to fish in an area where he caught a 10-pounder.
Overall, the pieces started coming together for me. Here was a guy with a system and a belief that there was more to fishing on Okeechobee than just plunking around with a big sinker. There were, and are, subtleties that most of us can barely fathom.
For me, thatís the selling point to this type of programming. Itís the way the pros attempt to answer questions they struggle with. Bringing the thought process to words. Trying to explain perception and feel. Temporarily substituting intellect for the intuitive driving force.
To me, thatís what pro fishing stands for. Itís about what makes these guys tick, and gives them cool heads through life-changing choices, despite the pressure. Itís the relentless tinkering, striving for perfection in their game. Itís the secrets to becoming a champion, right there in front of us all.
Ah, maybe Iím making too much out of it. Maybe someone gave Hallman great waypoints. Maybe he followed other competitors. Maybe itís just all luck. That would be a lot easier to explain anyway; placing reason behind result.
Iím sure, as the year wears on and more secrets come out, weíll get a little closer to learning just what the key really is. I, for one, canít wait.
(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)