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Cochran's Three-Pattern Days

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.

George CochranQuestion: What are you doing that is different, George, to keep from running your boat so far?

Cochran: I pick an area that I have confidence in to fish every day of the tournament, and I'll rarely leave that region. I may fish three or four miles off the shoreline, but I'll stay in that section of the lake. I'll run my big engine very little when I'm fishing and instead spend most of my time running the trolling motor.

But always remember that you can't catch bass everywhere each day. Decide where you want to fish, and spend your day fishing not running. I'll spend one whole day in one creek trying to develop a pattern. Once I've developed a pattern and know what type of structure the bass are holding on and what kind of lure I need to catch those bass, then the second day I'll stay in another creek that looks just like the first creek. I'll also fish the same lure pattern in the second creek.

Question: Are there any secrets in the baits you use that you believe gives you an edge?

George CochranCochran: I always fish three patterns during the day. I fish the top-water pattern early, a mid-water pattern after the sun rises and then finally a deep-water pattern. Many anglers either will fish deep water or shallow-water patterns all day. However, I've found that many times I can win by throwing a top-water bait early in the morning when most fishermen won't even have top-water baits in their tackle boxes.

Question: If you're fun fishing, how do you fish to catch the most bass?

Cochran: I'll fish a top-water lure early in the morning. When the sun rises, I'll fish a buzzbait or a spinner bait. From about 10:00 a.m. to about 3:00 p.m., I'll fish a Carolina-rigged worm or a jig-and-pig. Around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., I'll go back to fishing the spinner bait. Just at dark, I'll cast a top-water lure.