Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why I'm Not David Fritts!

I had the privilege of being on assignment during the Wal-Mart FLW Series BP Eastern Division event on Clarks Hill Reservoir in Georgia last month when cranking legend, David Fritts won the tournament on a series of Rapala DT crankbaits. To say he won was about as much of an understatement as you can make. He literally decimated the field by more than 10 pounds. Not many people can do what Fritts can with a crankbait. And I spent several hours photographing and watching him work his crankbaits in an area.

From the surface, it doesn't appear as Fritts is doing much different than you or I would do with a crankbait. Even his casts didn't seem that far to me. But the proof is in the pudding, and there is definitely a method to his madness. He looked so relaxed out there -- the first thing I noticed. He casts effortlessly, he sits leaned forward slightly in the chair on the front deck of his Ranger bass boat and his casts jettison his crankbait from the tip of a slow-reacting glass rod like a medieval catapult.

He matches a BPS David Fritts Signature Series reel on an American Rodsmith David Fritts Signature Series Crankin' rod. The fact that he uses a David Fritts reel with a David Fritts rod overstates his unassuming demeanor on the water but understates his beaming confidence off the water when talking about crankbait fishing. They guy knows his stuff. The only reason he has rods and reels named for him is because he knew the exact action of a perfect rod for casting distance and sensitivity requirements as well as the fact that a dual-pawl anti-reverse allowed for more feel of his crankbaits in the water. They didn't have exactly what he needed on the market at the time, so he got some good folks to make them for him.

But again it’s the man as much as the equipment that wins tournaments of this magnitude. I'm pretty sure David could have caught bass on a kid's Snoopy pole; it would have just been harder.
We have some great information about how he found the fish, fished for them during the tournament, and won the event in an upcoming issue of FLW Outdoors Magazine. We got the nitty gritty details about bumping the stumps and standing timber and when not to bump. So we'll save the juicy details for then.

But watching Fritts for a couple days yanking on 4- and 5-pound bass got me itching to go crankbait fishing on Kentucky Lake. Mistake number one: you don't tell the bass what they'll bite, they tell you. But sometimes I get stubborn after I see an angler who I've admired for many years just whack the fish on certain lure. Let's face it. That's why we watch fishing shows and read magazines, to figure out maybe a better way or a new toy that catches bass. We're all about the toys, aren't we?

Well after about 8 hours and 2,000 casts with a DT16, DD22, DT 20, Fat Free Shad, and a Hot Lips Express, I had nothing to show for it but two small dinky bass. Now I had heard the fishing was tough, that the weather had messed up the water temperatures and every local club having its year-end championships was putting a lot of pressure on the obvious places, but still I should have caught them better than two short fish. Then it dawned on me --- I'm not David Fritts. While I love to catch them on a crankbait, it's naive for me to think I will go catch them as well as he does everywhere he goes if the conditions aren't right on my own lake.

I guess we live and learn. Maybe next week, I'll pretend I'm Mark Rose and go catch them on a big spoon. Or I'll go pretend I'm George Cochran and fish ultra shallow way up the river. Maybe I'm better off just picking up my homemade jig and fishing slower and not pretending to be a pro. I seem to always do better fishing when I have no pre-conceived notions about how I should catch them or where I should catch them. Just put the trolling motor down and go to work.

Good Fishing!

Jason Sealock

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