This is my second year as a bass angler, and I am still a co-angler. People always ask me what is it that you do out there? They cannot believe we throw the fish back.
I explain to them, the goal is to catch a five-bass limit and then try to upgrade the weight, which is called culling. Every fish caught must be a certain size in length, some lakes say 12 inches, some say 14 inches -- Lake Jordan is 16 inches.
Once you pull in the first fish, you measure it. There are penalties for short fish. If you are blessed enough to catch a limit of five bass, you have beat half the field of anglers already. It is very hard to catch a limit every time.
Now, it is time to upgrade. The sixth fish has to be bigger than what you have; at no time can you have sixth fish in your live well. The goal is to come back with five of the biggest and heaviest fish of the tournament.
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One ounce could be the difference in a $100,000 first-place finish.
The one thing you never hear an angler brag about is the walk of shame. When you have done all you can do, pattern after pattern, and still no fish. Then you have to come in with no fish and still have to walk up and sign your name before leaving. The only thing more humiliating than that is when you are a boater with no weight and your non-boater has fish.
I have seen a lot in my past two years, and the walk of shame has no respect -- anybody can have no weight. Always remember the boat does not catch fish. Time on the water and consistency are the only ways to figure out your day on the lake.
In my first two years of learning how to fish for bass, I have had my share of zeros. I must say, when taking that zero, take it with pride
because you should learn something every time you're on the water. This won't be your last walk of shame.
Maliek Carrington, known as Mr. Maliek, of Steele Creek is an amateur angler who fishes in the Bassmaster Weekend Series. He started Fishing4Reel about five years ago to expose children to fishing by taking them on freshwater and saltwater fishing trips. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.