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Pump Up an Attitude
By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson

Understanding fish behavior and learning specific fishing techniques and tactics are obviously important. But, there’s another part of the equation most anglers overlook - the mental game.
Top tournament anglers have developed tremendous positive mental attitudes.
No matter what the conditions, they believe that the fish are always biting somewhere. After all, we’ve never seen a tournament weigh-in where no fish were brought to the scales. There’s always fish to be caught.
With only a few days of practice to locate fish, these pros are convinced they can catch a limit every day. They’re mantra is they never get skunked....they just run out of time.
“I love bad weather,” said Tom Keenan, 2003 Champion of the RCL Walleye Tour. “Bad weather, big blows, thunderstorms, and half the field is already out of it. They are mentally destroyed because they think they can’t catch fish. Thunder? I hope they’re really big boomers.”
Think of the last time you pulled up to a ramp at a strange lake. Maybe it was one the size of Mille Lacs or Lake of the Woods. You look out and see miles and miles of nothing but water. You’ve got to believe in yourself that you can meet the challenge. Otherwise, it’s probably not even worth launching the boat.
Jason Przekurat, 2003 RCL angler of the year, noted other ways to build confidence.
Start by cutting the lake or river down to size. Eliminate unproductive water before you launch by getting a lake map and applying what you know about walleye behavior at that time of year.
Check with bait shops and state fisheries biologists about where fish are located and what others are doing to make them bite.
Have a game plan about what structure you plan to fish and how you plan to fish them. Make adjustments on the water by taking factors like wind direction, water clarity and light penetration into account, he said.
Concentration is the key. Visualize and believe that there’s a trophy walleye eyeing your bait every moment.
Pay attention to detail. When the first fish bites, ask yourself what it’s told you about location, depth and action. If you were jigging, how deep was it? Were you popping it? Dragging it? What color did they bite? Were you using a big minnow or small? If you were trolling, how fast were you going? Were you on an edge or just off the structure?
As you catch more fish, begin to put a pattern together. But, don’t rest on your laurels. Keep experimenting to see what you can do to trigger more and bigger fish.
“I’m always paying attention,” said Keenan. “If I’m catching four fish an hour, I wonder, ‘If I tried this, would I catch eight fish an hour? What if I did that, would I catch 10 fish an hour?’ While trolling, if I get one fish on, I wonder what I can do to get a double or triple or quadruple. I’m always thinking four or five moves ahead, like a chess game.”
“Never, ever give up,” Keenan said.

Ted Takasaki with a nice walleye Don’t be afraid to make a change. On the fourth day of the RCL championship, Keenan decided the fish on the spot that got him into the finals were too small to win the event. Maybe they’d be enough to get him third place, maybe second. But, he was sure they wouldn’t get him to first. And, that just wasn’t good enough. He went to a brand new location. The result? A $300,000 win.
Consider the 1998 Professional Walleye Championship at Bismarck, ND. The two previous year’s tournaments were won fishing under bridges, which were popular spots the third year as you can imagine. But, someone took the risk of crossing a large, shallow, sand flat that was the only access to an entirely different feeder creek. The water was so shallow and full of stumps that he feared his boat would become mired entering and exiting the small Missouri River tributary. But, taking that risk to avoid the crowds resulted in a big win for Ted Takasaki.
The moral of the story; don’t psyche yourself out. Psyche yourself up. Pump up an attitude and win.


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