Mental Fishing – Knowing Your Goal, Define Goals to Enhance Fishing Success

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MentalBlogCompetitive athletes have a simple goal when they compete: WIN! In most sports, bass fishing included, winning is reduced down to a process, that when executed properly will give the athlete the best chance to win.

The majority of bass fishing is not competitive. That simple fact clouds the mental aspects of fishing in ways few anglers realize. One philosopher said, “If you aren’t aiming at something, you mostly likely won’t hit it.” When you put your boat in the water or set off for your favorite pond to fish, do you know what your goal is for the day?

Why is it so important to have a goal? I guess I am asking you to express your goal(s) for one simple reason. Satisfaction, enjoyment, and fun occur when our expectations or goals are met. If you fail to set a clear goal, you are actually more likely to come away from the experience disappointed than fulfilled or happy.

The goal of “enjoying nature and the experience of being outside” is something pretty likely to be accomplished (maybe engine failure, sunburn, or a bad thunderstorm might dampen it a bit). The goal of “catching a lot of fish” may or may not play out too well. It gives you some direction and some sense of how you will measure success, but is totally dependent on the outcome. You will come home happy or sad.

“Exploring new water” or “trying out a new technique or lure” can be a great goal if the goal doesn’t change. With either approach, a few hours on the water without a bite quickly changes the goal for most of us. The new goal becomes “catch a fish!”

Pay close attention to your goals on the water. Your focus, enjoyment, and sense of accomplishment are directly tied to the goals you set. If you do not set the goals actively, you will set them passively. Unconscious goals are the recipe for moody and even miserable days on the water.

The very worst type of goal involves putting expectations on the fish! It sounds stupid to do so when you see it written in black and white, but it happens all the time. “Yesterday they were hitting top water stuff like crazy…”

When you go fishing several days in a row or even two or three times a week, this goal is sinister. I call it fishing behind the fish. Yes, they might do today what they did yesterday, but there is a good chance things are changing.

I believe strongly in the fact that the most consistent Elite anglers avoid this trap and constantly think “The fish are here now. Where are they going?” One Pro I work with was fishing schooling fish and when the bite stopped would throw a certain lure for several casts (not looking to catch fish) to turn the bite back on!

How he figured that one out I will never know, but see how he did not fall into a trap created by a goal to catch fish. He could only have discovered this by making his goal to “figure out what they are doing now.”

For me, fishing is problem solving. I like to solve complicated and unpredictable problems – that’s why I do mental game work with anglers! When I fish I simply enjoy being outside and trying to solve the problem. Notice my goal is “trying to solve the problem” and not “solving the problem.” That’s why fishing is so fun for me!

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