How many times have you practiced for a tournament and did well, but then, in the tournament, you bombed or didn’t catch nearly as many fish as you figured you would? It’s happened to me a bunch of times, and I think a lot of it has to do with the pressure to perform that we put on ourselves. That mental pressure can overcome a fisherman when he’s in competition. It’s almost like he tries too hard. The answer is not to make fishing in a tournament more difficult than it should be. Simplify and fish your strengths. Stick with your old-school basics of power fishing or finessing. Take your time. And you don’t have to be a master of techniques to catch bass. That’s not to say you don’t need to practice casting or skipping a jig up under a dock, but you don’t have to be an expert at it to catch fish. Focus on what you’re doing, but relax and have a good time on the water when the tournament gets under way. In other words, the more pressure you put on yourself to perform, the worse off you are. Even if things don’t go your way all day, you can pull into a place and catch five 3-pounders in the last 15 minutes. Stay prepared to succeed, but keep all the clutter out of your head.
---- Hawiian Punch pro Jim Dillard, West Monroe, La.