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Davis' Mental Preparation for a Tournament

Mark DavisEditor's Note: Mark Davis, 38, of Mount Ida, Arkansas, who won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 and the Angler-of-the-Year title in 1995, 1998 and 2001, never has had a career outside the fishing industry. "My dad said I've never had a real job," says Davis, who is known today as one of the top bass fishermen in the nation and ranked 3rd in the world for bass-fishing expertise, according to, which rates anglers according to events won in the past two years with bonus points given to winning the BASS Masters Classic or comparable events.

Question: How do you mentally prepare for a major fishing tournament?

Answer: I believe that mental preparation goes hand-in-hand with physical preparation. When I pre-fish and get the basic knowledge of where and how I'll fish in a tournament, this helps me become more confident that I can win. I check all my equipment and make sure every piece is in tiptop shape. Knowing that equipment will perform the way it should when I need it to also adds to my confidence level. I make sure all my tackle is organized and that my boat is running at peak performance.

Mark DavisWhen I know I've done everything I need to do to prepare for a tournament, then I can fish that tournament with a tremendous amount of confidence. Preparing my equipment helps me focus better on the tournament I'm about to fish. Successful tournament bass fishing involves the ability to make the right decisions at the right time during a week of fishing. If you don't have to be concerned about your equipment, you can strictly focus on your decision-making process.

Question: How do you decide when to go or stay while fishing a certain area?

Answer: You always have the ability to come back to a region that has produced bass but isn't producing fish now. Timing is the real key to success in tournament bass fishing. If you're fishing a section of water where you know bass are but those bass aren't biting, then leave that area. You may want to come back to it three more times during the day.

Mark DavisGenerally I'll fish an area about an hour. If I don't catch a bass, I'll leave that place but may return to it three or four more times to see if the bass are feeding aggressively. Many times, if you fish a place three or four times during a day, you'll discover that the bass bite best perhaps between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. You can go to that spot over the next few days if weather conditions don't change and catch bass in that spot during that time period.