What do you do when you are playing "bumper boats"? <img align="bottom" src="http://www.wmi.org/bassfish/logos/monalisa.gif"> What do you do when you are playing "bumper boats"? ">
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    What do you do when you are playing "bumper boats"?
from jyarb  
6/29/2012 8:43:58 AM



If you look at the pictures of the BASS Tournament going on now out of Green Bay, a lot of the boats seem to be within spitting distance of each other. Most of the fish seem to be in a limited area with everyone crowded into that small area. If you were fishing this tournament or a lake like Guntersville on a spring weekend with hundreds of boats and, unfortunately, a lot of guys that will move in on top of you if they see you catch a fish, what do you do? Do you get in with the crowd and try to do something different? Try to ignore the crowd and just execute better? Go elsewhere and try to find something the rest of the field hasn't found or overlooked? I hate fishing in a crowd and would try elsewhere, but sometimes as in this tournament, there doesn't seem to be a good elsewhere, so what do you do?

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   Well from Jeff Hahn  6/29/2012 10:02:42 AM
Well, what I'd prefer to do is to search and find some fish that others have overlooked. But, that usually doesn't work too well, especially for these guys who have had a limited opportunity to search these waters.

Our Ohio lakes are small. And, almost everyone fishes shallow. For many years I have taken practice time trying to find those deep, off-shore fish that I just KNOW are out there. They HAVE to be out there. And, even if I have to put up with pleasure boat wakes and jet skis, I just know if I found those schools of fish I could win or get a check in any and every tournament. Yep, been searching for those fish for year now and haven't found them yet. Off-shore fish - no problem...SHALLOW off-shore fish on humps and ledges can be caught and if the right school is there when you pull up it's lights out. But, what about those fish I can see on my electronics that are sitting at the base of the hump or partly down it's side? I've C-rigged'em, drop-shotted'em, cranked'em, and rarely catch much doing those things...except walleye or catfish.

So, the result is, whether I like it or not, I catch more fish mixing it up with everyone else fishing for shallow fish. It's a "if you can't beat'em, join'em" deal.

Jeff Hahn

   Good point Jeff about the overlooked spots from ZX-Bama #14918 #14918  6/29/2012 11:11:45 AM
I remember one of the pros saying years ago that you will sometime find the best fish in areas that you would think they would NOT be located. I've found that to be the case a number of times on our waters. But as you said, they have a limited opportunity to find them.

   ever fish The Potomac?... from RobShaw  6/29/2012 12:32:43 PM
LOL...the guys in the above pic have LOTS of waterspace!!!

   ever fish Anna Marie Island from MikeF  6/29/2012 1:06:55 PM
For most of tarpon season most of the tarpon are in the same area. It's the same offshore most of the fish are on structure. In Boca Grande it's really bumper to bumper boats; I cannot fish like that.

Like anywhere else 95% of the fishermen respect everyone else's space. It's the 5% that cause all of the issues and it's the same people who complain you're too close to them that will get too close to you.

Actually that 5% number pretty much applies to every problem. 5% of the people are always 95% of the problems.

   Lots of wisdom in this thread from Ralph Manns  6/29/2012 2:10:00 PM
no further comment

   Bahahaha!!! from BassBrain  6/29/2012 4:23:24 PM
It looks like a walleye Tourney!!!!

   easy from 1bigsnakehead #18631  6/29/2012 9:44:25 PM
you do the same thing you would do, if no boats were there. you fish!

   a couple of thoughts from Randy B  6/29/2012 10:20:39 PM
That's what it looks like on Lake St Clair during the spawn. Once my friend had figured out that they wanted a really small tube, deadsticking just after you felt some grass clump. Maybe it was falling into a bed, I don't know. We were catching fish after fish while almost nobody else was. When we ran out of those particular color tubes, we were shutdown too. Anyway, the point is that sometimes even in a crowd, you can do something different.

2nd thought - the crowds in Japan and Korea for tournaments can be insane. Those guys have innovated some incredible finesse techniques that work in a crowd. Dropshot, flickshake, tiny lures, etc.

3rd thought - finding offshore stuff. It takes some time commitment, but if you're fishing the same lake consistently in your tournament, you could idle around collecting data for a custom map. Nowadays, you can make dynamic maps with DrDepth or the Gen2 units. I have even made maps then identified spots that look promising and dropped a camera down onto them. Unless there's not oxygen in your deeper areas, I bet you might find some isolated special spots that no-one else has.

   We will get to see what worked in this one situation from jyarb  6/29/2012 10:34:39 PM
It's a particular set of circumstances, but we will get to see what the winner did and the rest of the top 12. Some very good thoughts so far. Jeff, have you tried an Alabama rig on those fish you are seeing? It has made a believer out of me. I too have spent a lot of time looking for that magic deep water hole no one else has ever found. Most of the time when I think I've got a hole everyone else has overlooked, I get hung and pull up a wad of line.

Excellent points Randy. I think Rojas is fishing a dropshot and doing something a little different with it. Will be interesting to see what.

   Some observations from being out today in that situation. from TroyJ/Angling Alabama   7/1/2012 12:41:10 AM
I fished a tournament today with my friend Jonathan Henry (Basswhacker Guide Svc). He told me he had something going on the biggest community hole in the lake, and only he was catching them. I'm like, "yeah right".

After putting some good fish in the boat fishing my stuff on a jig, we went to his community hole (on Guntersville). We were literally within a toss of several other boats. Another friend of mine was also fishing the area. A-rigs were being thrown everywhere, and nothing was eating them. Sure enough, Jonathan boated a 4+ and a 5+ in the first 10 mins. We caught several other smaller fish before we had to leave. We fished about 1.5hrs there. We never saw another boat catch a single bass. We finished second by less than a 1/4 pound.

Jonathan does really well in the BFLs, etc. I'm sworn to secrecy but his little tricks fishing in a crowd work. I was sold today for sure. After I netted the 2nd good fish I said, "let me have one of them". A couple boats saw what we were doing but I guess they never really figured it out. The bottom line is think simple and know/watch what's going on. I hate fishing in a crowd, but it don't mean the crowd can't be out fished, and the A Rigs came up short today.

   Jeff hahn.. have you tried... from bjlc #10606 #10606  7/1/2012 10:17:42 PM
for Jeff Hahn.. just for kicks and giggles have you used an underwater camera to make sure that those fish on the humps were bass? because , time and time again, "bass" looking fish have been big blue gills , or like you said, Walleye, or what ever..

if you don't have one of those, I would bet that you know some one who does and can use it for a bit, because it is collecting dust in some garage..

food for thought.

   bjlc from Jeff Hahn  7/2/2012 4:02:46 PM
bjlc: I've never used an underwater camera. But, since the visibility in our reservoirs varies from 2" - 8" (yes, 2 to 8 INCHES), I doubt that I could see much. Our lakes are dirty due to the heavy boat traffic, especially this year with the water down 7 feet from normal pool. Our 4,000 - 6,000 acre reservoirs are within 1/2 hour of Akron and an hour of Cleveland, so the weekends are like riding the bull at Gilley's! Most of the time I think the fish I see on my electronics are walleye, blue gill, or catfish. I've caught a number of each while prowling around those deep fish looking for smallies.

Jeff Hahn

   shockingly enough. from bjlc #10606 #10606  7/3/2012 11:05:57 AM
jeff, they use those things here on the Mississippi river in 40 foot of water. trust me there isn't any light. and its murky at best. that being said, the catfish that they found, especially in the winter, where the cats are literally laying on one another. and the walleyes, lead me to believe that , yes , you can see something.. if only six inches away.. but it will prove to you what is or is not down there..

   JVD left the crowd from jyarb  7/3/2012 9:56:33 PM
and went about 10 miles south of where the majority were fishing.

   Jimmy, this a lot of space compared . . . from 31Airborne  7/5/2012 12:49:06 PM
. . . to the Potomac. Rob Shaw nailed it - there are days you can literally walk from boat to boat. Experienced the same thing a The G.

   I'm afraid I'd have to take up knitting from jyarb  7/5/2012 1:22:04 PM
if I had to fish under those conditions. Fishing that close just takes the enjoyment out of it for me. I try to avoid Guntersville on the weekend unless I have a tournament. One of the advantages of being retired.

   Wired 2 Fish Article on fishing in a crowd: from jyarb  7/11/2012 4:50:22 AM
http://blog.wired2fish.com/blog/bid/76813/Fishing-Feature-Crowd-Control-with-Aaron-Martens Excellent article that covers some points we hadn't thought of:

"At tournament time, tight territory and too many anglers put extra pressure on the bass and on you as angler, but one professional angler has learned hard lessons on how to make the most fishing in crowds.

By Walker Smith

Professional anglers are the best in the world when it comes to overcoming adverse fishing conditions. Whether they are facing torrential winds, 6-foot swells or brutal cold fronts, these guys will put fish in the boat when many anglers will want to go to the house. There is one condition, however, that even the most accomplished professionals loathe: fishing in big crowds.

These anglers spend countless hours searching for bass fishing nirvana – perfect structure, great water conditions and limited fishing pressure. However, circumstances and, lately, restrictive tournament boundaries sometimes force the pros to get up close and personal with each other.

Megabass pro Aaron Martens is known for his ability to fish effectively in crowded areas. We all remember watching him battle it out with KVD in the 2011 Classic and most recently in the 2012 Green Bay Challenge, sharing water with the likes of Ott DeFoe, Terry Scroggins and Mark Davis. Martens believes that four key elements enable him to catch more bass in crowded areas.


When your most productive areas are covered with other anglers, it can really take a toll on your state of mind. Optimism, flexibility and open mindedness are valuable antidotes.

Most folks that follow professional fishing and Aaron Martens have noticed a more upbeat and positive angler this season, and it has reflected in his fishing.

“You absolutely have to stay open-minded and relaxed," Martens said. "It’s too easy to get stuck on a few select places when you’re surrounded by boats. It’s important to have the confidence to leave a good area in order to look for something better.”

During the 2012 Green Bay Challenge, Martens believes his willingness to “stay put” cost him the victory. Although several of his best waypoints were often swamped with upwards of 20 boats, he recognizes that he should have stayed the course and ignored the significant fishing pressure.

“I had the fish figured out really well in practice, despite the heavy fishing pressure,” he said. "Several of the other guys weren’t fishing these spots the same way that I was. I should have taken advantage of that. I blew off a few of my more crowded spots when I should have covered more water fishing my strengths.”

According to the Elite Series pro, unconventional methods help him refocus and ignore the surrounding madness. For the first time in his professional career, Martens looked to his iPod for a much-needed distraction.

“I had never really done that in the past, because I like to have total concentration when I fish. This time, however, I needed something to drown out my surroundings in order to focus my mind.”

Lure Presentation

While a natural bait presentation is always important, it is paramount when surrounded by a multitude of other anglers. Martens goes to great lengths to assure the proper presentation of his bait while fishing crowded water.

“Attention to detail is everything," said the meticulous pro. "If I see some guys catching a few bass on 8-pound line, I will generally downsize to 6-pound line in order to give the bait a better presentation. My go-to bait in crowded scenarios is usually a 6-inch Roboworm. It displays a ton of natural action, and when they’re eating it, nothing else compares.”

When considering lure presentation, he is very observant of wind speed and current.

Even if there is no wind, there is always current. It may be less than 1 mph, but it is still there, and it still matters. You have to look beyond the obvious when battling other anglers for water. Your opponent may be picking off a few bass here and there, but you can catch tons of fish when you present the bait correctly. Bass position toward the current to ambush prey, and if you’re working your bait from the opposite direction, you are not going to get as many bites. Casting into the wind isn’t always fun, but you’ll catch more fish if you do.

Boat Positioning

While many anglers prefer to fish the areas leading into their productive spots, Martens does the exact opposite while fishing crowded water. Throughout the Green Bay Challenge, he targeted small schools of fish that were holding in very specific areas. In order to maximize his efficiency, he went straight to his waypoints without wasting time elsewhere.

“I really made an effort to fish only my most productive areas. I wanted to get straight to these areas quickly because it decreased the chance of other anglers easing in on me,” Martens said. “Whenever I landed a fish, I would make sure to immediately get my Phoenix back into position. As soon as I put the fish in the livewell, I would get on the trolling motor to reclaim my spot. You have to play a little defense in crowded water.”

Time Management

Effectively managing one’s tournament time is always important, but Martens considers it even more important in tight confines.

“If I know ahead of time that a fishery is going to fish relatively small, I will cover more water during the practice period,” he said. “This allows me to have multiple backup areas. If a bunch of boats are piled on a few of your spots, you can run around and hit other, less pressured areas. I wish I would have done this a little more on Lake Michigan.”

While Martens doesn’t necessarily mind fishing in crowds, he does acknowledge that there is a limit to the amount of fishing pressure that an area can withstand.

“While I don’t prefer bumping boats with other guys, I can deal with it to an extent. We’re all buddies out there. However, when you stop getting bites, sometimes it’s better to start running and gunning. Bass will get used to fishing pressure and eventually they’ll just shut down.”

The next time you find yourself competing in tight quarters, don’t let the fishing pressure get the best of you. A positive attitude, natural bait presentation, effective boat positioning and conscious time management will put more fish in your livewell. Remember: you’re fishing against the fish, not the anglers."

Edited 7/11/2012 4:53:58 AM

Edited 7/11/2012 4:56:34 AM



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