Editor’s Note: One of Strike King’s strong up-and-comers is James Niggemeyer of Van, Texas, who started-off the 2011 bass fishing season with a bang. He finished 20th at Lake Louisville at the BASS Central Open, on the BASS Elite Series he finished ninth on the Harris chain of lakes, and he made the 50-cut on the St. Johns River. Strike King is proud of what Niggemeyer’s accomplished.

Part 1: James Niggemeyer Says to Know Yourself to Become a Better Bass Fisherman

James NiggemeyerQuestion: James, you’re having a great year in tournament fishing. What are you doing differently this year?

Niggemeyer: I’m continuing to learn. I’m still as hungry about bass fishing as I’ve ever been, and I’m really focused mentally this year. I like fishing in the early spring, because this type of fishing lends itself to my strengths. I like to fish shallow, to flip and pitch and to fish some reaction baits.

If I can find fish on the bed, I can sight-fish. I’m learning new things all the time, while I’m on the water, competing and studying bass. One of the big things that I’ve learned is that it’s not the big things that you learn each day, each week or each tournament, it’s the little things that you pay attention to that cause you to improve as a bass fisherman.

James NiggemeyerI’m learning more about the strategies of winning a tournament, how to plan on the water when I’m in a tournament, and the best time management, which is a key ingredient to winning a tournament. Oftentimes, where you fish and when you fish there determines how well you do in a tournament. I think the real secret to becoming a better bass fisherman is learning little things each time you’re on the water that add up to your being a better bass fisherman.

For instance, all bass fishermen are created differently. Tactics that work for one fisherman won’t work for another fisherman. For instance, some anglers set their trolling motors on high and fish like a blazing fire down the bank all day long. That technique works for them, and they catch bass with that strategy. Some of the best tournament fishermen in the world are like that. Other anglers find their success by fishing slowly and methodically. What I’m learning more and more, especially this year, is that you have to learn the zone in which you’re comfortable to perform at your highest level. The style of fishing that I’m the most comfortable with is being methodical. James NiggemeyerI won’t make as many casts as a lot of fishermen do. But I do want to make a quality presentation of the lure to the bass each time I cast. I’m not going to flog the water and hope that a bass jumps on my lure. I prefer to use a pinpoint attack, much like a sniper, rather than being the guy with a machine gun.

This style of fishing hasn’t totally changed the way I fish. But I know that I fish my best when I try to fish more methodically, slow-down, make sure I have a good cast and target the areas I want to hit with my lure, rather than taking the shotgun approach of making as many casts as I can make in a day and hoping a bass will find my bait. For instance, I plan where I need to have my boat to make the best cast I can make. I pick-out the one target I want to try to hit on this cast, and I want to make sure that my lure enters the water perfectly and falls on a slack line, and that I work that lure the best I can on each cast I make, whether I’m flipping, pitching, running crankbaits or buzzbaits.

James NiggemeyerI’ve also learned that I perform at my best when I’ve got my emotions under control, when I’m relaxed and not having to force casts, speed-up my retrieve or worry about whether I’m going to get back to the boat ramp on time. I’ve also learned that I have to have confidence in my decision-making process when I’m in a tournament. I can’t second-guess myself. I have to take the information I have, the lures I have to fish with, the weather, water and light conditions and the mood of the bass and then make the best decision I can and not play that “what if” game with myself, after I’ve made that decision. I guess one of the things I’m learning through bass fishing is to be as effective as I can be as a bass fisherman and to give yourself the best chance to win, you’ve really got to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses – and learn how to fish comfortably with the decisions you make.

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