Rest and Reload

By Andy Whitcomb

Mar 03, 2014

Kevin VanDam knew how to let one small cove rest and reload for 3 days to win the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.

There is a surprising amount of strategy in multi-day tournament fishing. It isn’t enough to find a good spot with cooperative fish; you have to find 3 or 4 days’ worth of five hefty bass to weigh. This can mean frequent boat rides to locate more spots, or if the fishing is so good in both quantity and quality, the angler can try to manage that location the entire event.

When you catch a big fish, you want to catch another. And another. Eventually, the fish may stop biting and you have to try a new area. Sometimes catching fish attracts more fish to the area; sometimes the activity spooks other fish. Much depends on such factors as depth, cover, and time of year.

Here’s how some of the pros manage their hot fishing areas, not only during the day but over multiple day events.  This awareness of fish activity can assist the recreational or even the beginner angler as well.

FLW pro angler Dave Wolak takes into account the seasonal movements and always seeks locations that are reloading with bass, not where the fish are leaving.  If pro angler Richard Howes finds such a place, he might never leave that spot. He would remain in that area to avoid losing it to other tournament anglers who might move in. But, he wouldn’t fish the entire time, maybe he’d have a sandwich and let the spot rest.  Kevin VanDam won his third Bassmaster Classic by never leaving a small cove in 3 days.

If pro Richard Howes finds a hot spot, he may never leave it.

Chris Lane, former Bassmaster Classic champion, spoke about special areas in Lake Guntersville that were small, “about the size of two dinner tables.”  He estimated an hour rest for these great fishing spots. But that timing depends. He said he kind of has to “feel it.”

Bassmaster Elite angler Todd Faircloth’s reloading time is about 30 minutes, especially if he’s still fishing in that same neighborhood. For deciding whether to stay, leave, or return, Bill Lowen factors in “windows” of opportunity such as changes in temperature, wind, or cloud cover. Randy Howell, winner of this year’s Bassmaster Classic, fished the same area all three days, but really didn’t find the lucky bite until the final day, perhaps as the water continued to warm and clear.
Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.