The Interviews

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The Key To Davis' Success

Mark DavisEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: What has been the key to your bass-fishing success?

Answer: I think versatility has been the key to my success. I fish with a lot of different lures and know how to keep up with the bass.

Question: Is versatility something that you've learned over time, or have you always been versatile?

Answer: I think versatility is something I've learned over a period of time. I guided fishermen for 15 years, too.

Question: Was losing weight the key to your success?

Mark DavisAnswer: Yes, it was. I lost about 150 pounds in 1994. The next year I won the Classic and Angler-of-the-Year title. So I sincerely believe that losing weight was a big help to my career.

Question: Did you lose weight in an effort to improve your fishing?

Answer: Yes, I did.

Question: What has been the biggest change in your fishing ability, and why did it happen?

Answer: The biggest change in my fishing ability is probably what we just talked about -- losing weight. My ability mentally was there, but physically I didn't have the endurance I needed. Losing the weight really helped me to get focused and back on track.

Question: Other than endurance, how else did the weight hinder you?

Mark DavisAnswer: The endurance and the mental aspect of fishing all work together. If you don't feel good about yourself and your abilities, then you don't think well. If you don't think well, then you don't fish well, and you don't make good decisions. The mental part of fishing directly relates to the physical part of it.

Question: How much did you weigh at your biggest?

Answer: I weighed about 390 pounds.


Davis Develops A Style

Mark DavisEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: You're basically a shy fellow. Where did you find the courage, and how did you learn to speak in front of thousands of people on TV?

Answer: When I first started pro bass fishing, I was not a very good speaker. The ability to speak just came to me over time. And now I'm real comfortable with it.

Question: Did you ever take any speech classes?

Answer: No, I just kind of developed my own style of public speaking.

Question: How important do you think speaking well in front of large crowds is for your career?

Strike King LuresAnswer: To your sponsors, your ability to express yourself clearly and speak confidently is very important. To be a successful B.A.S.S. professional, you must have and/or develop good communications skills.

Question: What are the five keys to your consistently being one of the top tournament bass fishermen in the nation?

Answer: Number one is my ability to find fish. God gave me a natural talent, and I've learned through experience how to locate fish. I've also learned how to read water quickly. By reading the water, I mean that I can recognize the potential for bass, and I also can recognize dead water quickly and eliminate that water from my fishing plans. I also have to figure out the fish's patterns. Of course it all comes down to finding the bass. The ability to locate fish is the one common denominator with all really successful fishermen. Not everyone has that ability. Some guys will find the bass now and then. But being able to consistently find bass every day and in every tournament is a God-given talent.

You also need to be able to fish with all types of tackle, line sizes and lures. You need to be able to do well with all different kinds of lures. And this need to diversify makes bass fishing a great sport. And all the various techniques you can use to catch bass make tournament fishing a complex sport. You have to master each one of those tactics, apply them and get them to work for you in various tournament situations. You have to think about the mental part of fishing. For instance, the last time I fished a tournament on Lake Eufaula was bad for me mentally. I struggled and didn't do well. The fish changed, and I didn't adjust. I could see the changes coming, and I still didn't make the adjustments that I needed to make.

Strike King LuresSo the mental aspect of the sport is huge. I have to make good, sound decisions and be patient with the decisions I make and not second-guess myself. I have to make a decision that I believe is right, then play my cards out and make it work. But sometimes I have to make split-second decisions and completely change what I'm doing when I see that the fish have changed. Sometimes I have to adapt when the conditions change. So don't get into a rut like I do sometimes if you want to be a successful bass fisherman. You need to change when you must and always be willing to adjust.


Davis' Favorite Lures

Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: What are your favorite Strike King lures, and how do you like to fish them?

Answer: My favorite Strike king lure is a Series V crankbait. That bait works in a variety of situations. I fish it from 8- to 12-feet deep, depending on the line size. I like to fish it over deep, submerged vegetation, like outside grass lines, stumps and points. I also like to fish this lure over manmade brush piles and around standing limbs. I like to fish that Series V in a crawdad pattern with crawdad colors over steep, wind-blown rocky banks. I also like to fish ledges, drops and structure with that lure.

Question: What is the most difficult aspect of being a tournament fisherman, and how do you overcome it?

Answer: Well, there are several difficult aspects. Becoming a professional fisherman can put a lot of financial strain on you. Getting established is hard for most guys. Too, a lot of people don't realize the brutality of the sport. People think you're just out there sitting in a boat, having fun and drinking soda pop. But tournament fishing is very physically demanding. The time away from home really wears on you, also. It puts a strain on your family life. I guess to sum it up, the hardest part for me are the days I spend on the road.

Strike King LuresQuestion: How many days are you on the road a year, or how much are you gone?

Answer: I'm gone about 175 to 200 days out of the year. I do a lot of bass-fishing seminars in the spring. I live a fast-paced life. You can't slow down. You have to keep going.

Question: How long do you think you'll keep this lifestyle?

Answer: I'm 38-years old. I hate to think I'll still be doing this when I turn 50. I'll probably keep it up another 10 years or so.


Davis Prepares For The Classic

Strike King LuresEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: What do you know about Lay Lake, and how do you plan to fish it in this year's B.A.S.S Classic?

Answer: Well, I don't know how I'll fish it. I don't know Lay Lake all that well. I fished a Classic there in 1996. But I don't have any preconceived notions about how I'll fish it this time. I really won't know my strategy until I get over there and really look at the lake and the conditions. It will be like most every other tournament in the summertime. It may be a deep-water structure tournament, or the tournament may be a shallow fight. I may end up flipping in real shallow water this year.

Question: What do you think will be the winning pattern or patterns and why?

Answer: The winning pattern on Lay Lake will depend heavily upon the water conditions, such as the dissolved-oxygen levels. Early in the summer in most lakes with plenty of oxygen in deep water, the fish will tend to gravitate to that deeper water. Then as the summer wears on, the oxygen level will become low, and the fish have to come back to shallow water to survive. When that happens, bass fishing turns into a shallow-water game. You'd think the hotter the weather, the deeper the fish get, but actually that's only true to a point. When the weather gets too hot, and that dissolved-oxygen level drops, the bass will return to shallow water.

Strike King LuresQuestion: If someone wanted to be a professional bass fishermen or to catch more bass every time he went fishing, what three Strike King lures would you give him to learn to fish? Give me two patterns for each lure.

Answer: I would tell him to fish a 3/8-ounce jig with a pork -chunk trailer like the Baby Bow Hog black-and-blue chunk trailer. An angler needs to learn how to flip and pitch that jig very accurately to shallow-water targets. Next, the fisherman needs to learn to fish slightly deeper structure just off the bank and really learn how to hop the jig. A lot of people drag a jig, but I suggest learning how to hop that jig and make the fish bite it.

The next lure a tournament fisherman needs to learn to use is a Series III crankbait in a watermelon-shad color because the Series III is a great fish-biting lure. Learn how to fish it in shallow-water drops and shallow-water ditches around your flat areas, and around shallow grass and vegetation if it is available. Next an angler needs to learn to use a chartreuse-and-white Strike King Premier Pro-Model spinner bait with one gold and one silver willow-leaf blades. He should learn to fish that bait two different ways -- by slow rolling it and crawling it through cover that you can't see in 5 to 10 feet of water. He also must learn how to fish in shallow water by waking it or buzzing it around shallow cover.

Question: What type of fishing do you most enjoy?

Strike King LuresAnswer: I think one of my main strengths is deep-water bass fishing. In most parts of the country, deep-water fishing for bass involves trying to catch bass in water 15 feet or deeper. In some areas, deep-water fishing may involve fishing in water 30-feet deep. Fishing deep water can help you become a better shallow-water fisherman, too. If you understand the bass' habits and how the fish relate to structure in deep water, you can apply that knowledge to shallow-water fishing as well. Shallow-water fishermen often feel lost when they can't see the bank or the structure around which they want to fish. Finding deep bass can prove more difficult than pinpointing shallow bass because you have to rely more on your electronics and your fish-finding abilities. When you fish shallow water, many times you can see where you need to fish -- for example you can see the cover, the shade, the current, the baitfish and often the bass you hope to catch. But when you fish deep, you can't see any of these features.


Locating Deep-Water Bass

Mark DavisEditor's Note: Thirty-eight-year-old Mark Davis from Mount Ida, Arkansas, has fished professionally for 17 years. He won the BASS Masters Classic in 1995 has won three Angler-of-the-Year titles and ranks as the No. 2 angler in the world on BassFan.com.

Question: How do you find deep-water bass?

Answer: To find deep-water fish, you need to cover water efficiently. A depth finder won't locate the bass for you, although it will help you find the fish, the structure and the cover. But ultimately, you have to find those fish with a rod and reel.

Question: What do you think will be the winning pattern or patterns and why?

Answer: The winning pattern on Lay Lake will depend heavily upon the water conditions, such as the dissolved-oxygen levels. Early in the summer in most lakes with plenty of oxygen in deep water, the fish will tend to gravitate to that deeper water. Then as the summer wears on, the oxygen level will become low, and the fish have to come back to shallow water to survive. When that happens, bass fishing turns into a shallow-water game. You'd think the hotter the weather, the deeper the fish get, but actually that's only true to a point. When the weather gets too hot, and that dissolved-oxygen level drops, the bass will return to shallow water.

Mark DavisQuestion: What lures do you use when you fish for deep-water bass.

Answer: When I fish down to about 18 feet or less, I'll fish a crankbait. If I only can choose one crankbait, I'll use a Strike King Series V crankbait. By changing my line size and the length of my cast, I can fish this bait from 5 to 12 feet with great success. That depth encompasses a lot of bass fishing. I like to use the watermelon shad color, a pearl-colored lure with a light green lime back. Because of its back, this lure shows up in stained water, and its white pearl belly shows up in clear water. Fishing a crankbait successfully involves several important ingredients. The further you can cast a crankbait, the lighter line you use and the deeper you hold your rod in the water, the deeper the crankbait will dive.

I've found that a crankbait works most effectively when fished on some type of breakline, either an underwater creek channel, an underwater grass line, an underwater stumprow or some other type of break-line. When fishing for deep-water bass, attempt to discover a school of bass. You want to catch your limit of bass out of one spot.

Question: What tactics do you use in the summer to catch those deep-water bass?

Mark DavisAnswer: During the summer months, I'll use a fast retrieve. When the surface temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher, the bass's body metabolism rises, and the bass want to chase a fast-moving bait. You use a faster retrieve to get a reaction strike. However, you need to remember that bass don't read the same magazine articles and books we read. Some days you need a slow retrieve for the bass to bite -- even in hot weather. But during the winter months, I almost always use a slow retrieve. I may even want to add a little weight to my crankbait to make it suspend. Then when I stop the bait, the lure will sit there for a long time so that the bass can see it and decide to eat it. I may work it really slow through cover.