Mental Fishing – Intellectual Integrity with Charles Plott of PAS Profile

Power Pole

MentalBlogOur first discussion on “critical thinking,” or what I call high performance decision making, starts with the concept of intellectual integrity. Let’s bring it down to the real world. Decision making in the arena of competition (competitive angling or the business world) starts with the ability to clear direct and refine the decision making process from all other factors.
In the world of bass fishing understanding what those “all other factors” are is the key. Each factor (weather, water temperature, wind, season, etc.) is an independent decision making process on its own. Golfers think they have it tough. Anglers face three or four times the number of decision making factors on a daily basis.

Intellectual integrity speaks to the ability of the angler to systematically assess each factor and then synthesize them into a unified outcome. What happens to most of us on the water is a reliance on assumptions to cover up for a pure lack of information and knowledge. Wisdom is the proper application of understanding and information. Being wise on the water demands honest, sound, and reliable information and thought.

Professional anglers have a list of information they need to know. They obtain that information through various channels. They are able to think through each factor and, with great wisdom, they assimilate it into a description of the water they are fishing on that day. This process is repeated throughout the day.

Here’s an application: Write down a list of all the information you need to know before you start fishing. Then, order your thinking based on the implications of the basic conditions in which you will be fishing.

It is like a pilot working through the pre-flight process of checking out the plane before taking off. The pilot gets a weather briefing and files a flight plan. Critical areas of the plane and engine are examined before starting the engine. The engine itself is put through its paces before running down the runway and launching into the air. It is the same process each and every time! There are check lists because it is too important to be left purely to memory.

Like a pilot, the angler faces an ever-changing environment that must be assessed and reassessed constantly. Experience and powers of observation are critical. Pilots are taught how to reason critically. They have practiced and continue to practice high-pressure situations to make sure their thinking possesses that quality of “integrity.” Emotions like fear blur the decision making process at the very time it must be pure and clear.

On the water, it might not have the life or death component that flying a plane has, but the fear of not finding fish or not catching the fish you know are there distorts the thinking process. To improve as an angler you must rise above the confusion and insecurities to think through what is happening and making the crucial adjustments. There may need to be some trial and error to clear up the picture. One angler recently told me that eliminating options is just as important as finding something that works. “What they don’t bite tells as much or more than finding something they will bite,” he said.

Intellectual integrity is never perfectly achieved, but the great degree you possess on the water the better your decision making will. Add to that a recollection of the past and you will move ahead as an angler very rapidly. I advise clients to create an angling journal. Elite pros are blessed with an unbelievable memory and an ability to cross-reference between similar situations they have faced over several decades of competitive fishing. Most of us need to write the stuff down and keep it with us in order to make the most of our experiences on the water.

Charles Plott, M.S. is a Performance Consultant. He brings two decades of experience helping individuals, teams, and businesses improve performance. Charles is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor, with over 20,000 hours of experience. His website is