By Stan Fagerstrom
Product Review Editor
January 13, 2012
There’s a good bit of truth in that old saying that practice makes perfect. And it applies in spades to the angler who wants to put more bass in the boat.
I wrote a bit about the importance of casting practice in one of my columns here a few years ago. The start of another brand new year is a good time to mention it again. Listen up because I’ve a few thoughts to share that are a cinch to improve your bass fishing success in 2012.
It didn’t come as a surprise.
I was out in front of our home doing some practice with the rods I use for my casting exhibitions. Even though it was expected, I had found myself getting a tad weary of listening to the comments of neighbors who walked by while I was practicing.
The home we lived in had a patio in the rear but there was no room to cast back there. I used a part of our front yard and the street in front of it for my practice sessions.
I wasn’t too fond of one big guy who lived down the street a ways. Sure enough, I’d only been practicing for 15 minutes or so one day when he comes by on his morning walk.
“You caught anything yet?” he says. “I’ve seen you out here two or three times already this week. Are you getting any bites at all?
I didn’t tell that big dude what I really wanted to tell him that morning. What I wanted to say was: “Nope, I haven’t really caught anything but every now and then some big sucker does show considerable interest.”
What I did say was that I had been booked to do casting exhibitions at an outdoor show in San Francisco the following week. I simply wanted to fine tune my casting skills so I’d be assured of hitting my targets.
Sometimes I might have 500 people jammed around my casting area to watch. Every now and then the onlookers would involve a crew from a local TV station wanting to shoot something for an evening newscast. It wasn’t the best time or place for a backlash!
Maybe I preach too much about the importance of casting practice. But I don’t think so. I believe it’s every bit as important, you see, for the average angler as it is to someone like myself who has given casting exhibitions all over the place for more than a half century.
It’s easy to recall an experience I had a few years ago that quite clearly illustrates what I’m talking about.
I had taken a friend along on a trip to Siltcoos Lake. Siltcoos, as experienced Pacific Northwest bassin’ men know, is located just south of Florence on the central Oregon coast.
Siltcoos Lake doesn’t have the bass population of Ten Mile Lake, a bit farther south, but it does have some real brutes for Pacific Northwest waters. When I lived in the coastal community of Florence, just five miles away, I often fished Siltcoos Lake two or three times a week. I managed to pinpoint the holding spots of some of those big bass in the process.
My friend Charlie was a good guy. If he wasn’t I wouldn’t have asked him to accompany me in the first place. But he had the casting skills of a thumbless baboon!
I’d raised this one dandy bass a couple of times in one little pocket back in the reeds. The morning I had Charlie along I eased the boat into position and showed him exactly where to cast.
Well, Charlie wound up doing his version of the Hungarian Hammer Throw. His aim was off by three feet. He hung up beyond the reed pocket where that big one hung out, then yanked the cover around with sufficient commotion to scare the hell out of a shark.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had this sort of thing happen over a lifetime of fishing for bass. And why anglers who are serious about their fishing won’t accept the need for casting practice beats the bejabbers out of me.
I suppose I’ve been preaching about the importance of casting practice longer than almost anybody. I gave the first casting demonstrations that amounted to anything at an outdoor show in the Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles way back in 1952.
I’ve been doing it to one degree or another all over this country, and sometimes out of it, for more than a half century.
I found out in a hurry that standing out there at some of the largest outdoor shows in the world to demonstrate casting meant having to hit my targets. After I’d screwed up royally a time or two early on it became readily apparent there was only one way to prevent it from happening again.
The answer was simple enough---I simply had to practice what I was preaching. I always mentioned the importance of practice in the talks that went along with my exhibitions.
Just talking about the importance of casting practice didn’t amount to squat. There was simply no substitute for preparation through practice for consistent accuracy.
I started a practice schedule at home prior to each show in which I participated. On the days the show was actually open I’d also go in early an hour or so and practice. I worked on casting to the targets in the area I’d be presenting my programs later in the day.
Did it pay off? The skills I managed to polish through practice with my rods opened more doors for me that I’d ever thought possible. They’ve taken me everywhere from Tulsa to Tokyo and from Birmingham to Brazil. Equally important, they’ve helped me catch more fish.
I’ll have some additional thoughts to share in that regard. I’ll be talking about them in my next column. Keep an eye out for it because it might mean picking up on something that might be of the same kind of help to you it has been to me.
*click here for part two