Too Much Running - Not Enough Fishing
Editor's Note: George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, one of the truly nice guys on the professional bass-fishing circuit and a longtime member of Strike King's Pro Fishing Team, doesn't call attention to himself. But when tournament day arrives, the quiet Cochran becomes one of the most fierce competitors on the tournament trail. Also the winner of two BASS Masters Classics in 1987 and 1996, Cochran has qualified for the Classic numerous times. Many anglers consider Cochran the master of finding overlooked places to fish and using under-utilized tactics to catch bass. A maverick who doesn't follow the crowd, he has proved he's one of the best shallow-water anglers in the nation.
Question: Can you think of another time when fishing a weird tactic has paid off for you?
Cochran: The 1987 Classic I won almost was identical to the 1996 Classic win. All the pros were fishing the Ohio River, which wasn't noted for having a lot of bass in it. Everyone knew the tournament couldn't be won within 30 to 40 miles of downtown Louisville, Kentucky, where we launched our boats. During practice, I ran 50 miles downriver and calculated the amount of time I would need to run downriver, go through the lock and come back. I realized I'd only have about three hours to fish. I knew three hours wasn't a very long time to try and win a BASS Masters Classic.
The next day of practice I went about 30 miles upriver, but I still didn't have much time to fish. The last day of practice I stayed within two miles of the boat launch and caught about 10 bass. My son caught three or four. On that day, I made the decision that instead of taking the long run like the other competitors, I'd stay close to the launch area and spend 7 1/2-hours fishing in downtown Louisville where no one else believed you could catch bass.
I fished a top-water bait, and then later in the morning I threw the Strike King spinner bait by bringing it down small channels in the weeds. Toward the last hour or two of each day of the competition, I fished small weeded points on the main river channel with a plastic worm. By the end of that Classic, I'd caught more bass than any other competitor in the tournament by fishing an area where everyone said there weren't any bass. Even though this section of the river probably didn't have as many bass as there were 30 to 50 miles up the river or down the river, because I had more time to fish, I could fish slower and catch the fish that were there.
Question: How did you keep the other anglers from knowing where you were fishing?
Cochran: At the take-off, all the other contestants would throttle down and run their boats wide-open either up river or down river. I'd run with them for about a mile. Then I'd pull over to the side of the river and act like something was wrong with my boat until they went out of sight. Then I'd return and fish the area they just left. On all three days of the Classic, most of the time I remained within sight of the boat ramp. Most people spend way too much time running their big engines up and down the river and not enough time fishing.