By Steve Graf Owner/Co-host Hook’N Up & Track’N Down Show
Well, the ABA Ray Scott National Championship is in the books. This is a tournament that took place at Lake Hartwell South Carolina. It’s the final event for American Bass Anglers Association that anglers all across the country had to qualify for to enter. It’s some of the best anglers in America coming together for 7 days of bass fishing. The most challenging part of this tournament besides the 12-hour ride getting there, is the fact that it’s a four-day event not including the three official practice days. To put it mildly, it’s a grind, an iron man event that starting in 2022 will be decreased by one day. I mean even the greatest bass tournament in the world, the Bassmaster Classic, is only three days. So, let me give you an angler’s perspective as to how this event unfolded for me.
First, the drive, I have a whole new respect for anglers that choose this profession to make a living. You leave home and hope to get there without a trailer or truck tire blowout, which I’ve now had two trips in a row. The road is hard on both the angler and your equipment and is a true test of your endurance. It helps to have another angler as a travel companion who can give you a hand if you have some form of a breakdown. When you’re on the road, you open yourself up to the risks that go with travel like accidents or thieves looking to take your boat apart and steal whatever is loose or what they can take off your boat in a short time frame. It helps to have another guy traveling with you to watch out for this would-be low life opportunist.
Next, let’s talk about practice time. Now hopefully you’ve done your homework and research on the lake you’ll be fishing before you left home which I did. This can be critical and very important in saving you time by not fishing unproductive areas. Map reading is still the best way to break a lake down. Understanding where the major creeks are and looking for subtle details like ditches, humps and ridges. Are there boat docks or brush piles on the lake? Finding where the creeks come in tight to a main lake or secondary point is also of major importance. But when it’s all said and done, you still have to get on the lake and learn to read the water. A common theme among all good anglers, is that nothing is more important than time on the water. This trumps everything when it comes to figuring out a body of water especially that you’re not familiar with.
After practice, you have to put a game plan together but keep in mind, Mother Nature can play a huge roll in you changing your game plan. It’s the one variable you have no control over and has wrecked a many a game plan for anglers of all levels. But the anglers that make the best adjustments, are usually the guys to beat in any event. Fishing is a constant game of decisions and adjustments and can really test an angler’s abilities. Just when you think you have the fish figured out, a cold front blows through and everything you learned in three days of practice, you can now disregard.