By Lawrence Taylor
Do bass pros have a secret they keep to themselves? Is it a lure? It’s got to be a hidden honey hole. Maybe a hush-hush mix of chemicals they spray on their baits or some high-tech electronic doohickey that makes bass go nuts?
Do they bury a dead cat in the graveyard under a full moon?
Oklahoman Jason Christie, pictured at right, fishes the FLW and PAA tours among others and has cashed some pretty big checks since he quit coaching high school basketball. He quickly rose through the ranks and continues to be a top contender at any tournament, and now offers guide trips to budding or current bass tournament anglers (and just regular guys who want to improve their fishing). His School of Bass isn’t just a normal “go out and catch bass” deal, though. It’s an educational experience that lets the client in on the “secrets of the pros.”
The focus of his School of Bass is pattern-fishing, and trips are seminars on the water, geared toward teaching tournament anglers or regular bass fishermen the art of identifying, developing, refining and exploiting a bass pattern. The pattern is the secret, and it’s got to be discovered every day you’re on the water.
For the new angler, developing a pattern is the act of solving that day’s mystery of combining the best lure, location, color pattern, structure/cover, and other factors to maximize the number and size bass you catch. A pattern can change overnight or even throughout the day. Once an effective pattern for the day is developed, however, anglers normally can take it to other similar areas and maximize success.
Developing a pattern is mental, a decision-making process. Exploiting the pattern is physical. Christie covers both during his guide trips.
“The client is involved in the thought process it takes to pattern fish,” Christie said. “Unlike guiding, where you pull up, catch fish and leave, this school gives you tools to use in the future.”
Christie’s School of Bass allows anglers to select however many days they want to spend on the water learning about patterning bass as well as refining various techniques the client chooses. Christie says that many anglers have a mistaken impression about how the pros go about putting together big sacks for the weigh-in stage.
“Many people think that I’ve got some big secret,” he said, “but that’s not it. It’s about going to a lake and figuring out the best way to catch the best fish. If you want to be successful, you’ve got to learn to quickly pattern the fish, because it changes day-to-day.”
In addition to the details of patterning bass, Christie freely shares other secrets of the pros with his clients. He says there are a lot of factors that even mid-level tournament pros haven’t considered.
“It’s as much mental as it is physical,” he said. “A lot of people can cast well and we all have the same tools, but the best fishermen are really mentally tough. They don’t let the little things bother them, don’t mind fishing around others and they just keep a good mindset. Mentally, I’m not the strongest out there, but I’ve learned to make the right decisions and share what I’ve learned. They’re not secrets, just stuff most anglers haven’t thought of yet. They could learn these lessons on their own but it takes a lot of time on the water and a lot of competition.”
Christie covers everything a client requests, from proper tournament practice and learning a lake to putting together the pattern. If an angler wants to learn the secrets of a certain lure or even a technique like sight-fishing, he’ll pour everything he’s got into teaching every nuance.
“I’ve had a lot of fishermen ask me how or where I was able to catch my fish to win a tournament,” he said. “I’ll tell you this, very seldom has the winning fish had to do with a secret spot on a lake or a secret lure. In most cases, it dealt with being able to pattern the fish on that particular day. When an angler learns to pattern the fish he can jump even from lake to lake in a particular region and catch fish. That’s what I’m teaching in the School of Bass.”
Christie offers School of Bass discounts to college students and those in the military. Dates must be arranged around his tournament schedule. All information can be found at www.christiefishing.com.
“It’s not about how many you catch; it’s about catching the right ones,” he said.