Your One-Page Report is Due
By Chad Hill, U.S. Anglers Choice contributor


  At the beginning of November, I had the opportunity to watch some of the online coverage of the FLW Costa Series Championship at Lake Cumberland near Somerset, Kentucky. I have fished a couple of events on Lake Cumberland, so I was interested in seeing how the anglers attacked it in fall drawdown conditions.

David Dudley, 2019 FLW Angler of the Year, was doing color commentary for the streaming coverage. He is not a regular tournament coverage commentator. His remarks were a bit raw; his candor was actually refreshing. He provided a good perspective on what the contending anglers were doing, including pointing out instances when he might do something a little different or make a change. He was quick to point out though that he had not been on the water and did not know exactly what the Lake Cumberland bass were up to.

Much of the early coverage on day two was of the day one leader from Zimbabwe. The leader did a good job of breaking down what he was doing, how he was trying to catch his fish. While watching him get a bite and catch a short fish, Dudley made the comment that he should be able to write a one-page report on that bite. Dudley explained that outside of tournament season he does a guide-type service during which he coaches anglers on ways to improve their bass fishing. A little while after an angler he is evaluating/coaching gets a bite, he will ask the angler what details he or she can provide about the bite from a few minutes earlier. Dudley said that often the angler can give very few details about a specific bite, even from just a few minutes earlier.

Dudley said that each bite tells a detailed story that every angler should be tuned in to. If an angler can “write one page” on a bite, then “write another page” on the second bite, he or she can compare the details from the two “reports” and begin assembling the pieces of the puzzle to establish a fish-catching pattern for the day.

Can you write David Dudley a one-pager on a single bite? Are there enough details provided by a single bite to write a “one-page report”? If so, what are those details?

Here are some things to consider when assembling the information provided by a single bite: (1) depth (2) water clarity (3) water temperature (4) wind (5) sun or shade (6) retrieve speed (7) retrieve style (8) was bait moving or stationary when bite occurred (9) was bite hard, soft, or in between (10) how was fish hooked (11) was bite close to cover, if so, what type (12) was bite close to bank or offshore (13) did you see other fish come up with one hooked (14) was bite on main lake, primary point, secondary point, cove, pocket, etc. (15) was there bait fish or other prey visible in the area. Those are 15 details that I thought of in just a couple of minutes. I am sure there are more. In short, it is enough information to write David Dudley’s one-page report. If an angler compared the details from each of his or her first two or three bites, it would not take long to identify the common threads between them that could be focused on and exploited to establish a bass-catching pattern for the day.

To the angler on the water, logging all of those details may sound like a tall task. In reality, most anglers are already doing a portion of it. The human mind is an amazing computer. With a little conditioning, asking it to log these details is not a stretch. Now, I am not saying that an angler is going to remember every one of these details for several consecutive bites on a given day. However, the key is for the angler to log as many bite details as possible so that they can be compared to the next bite. Then, the notes from the first two bites can be compared to the third. By this time, hopefully, some common characteristics are identifiable. From that point forward, the angler can log fewer notes for each bite, instead focusing on the details that bind the bites together pointing toward a repeatable pattern.

Unless you are a high school or college angler, you probably thought that your days of writing papers were over. Although you don’t have to literally write a one-page paper for every bite during a day on the water, conditioning yourself to log as many details in your mind about each time ole bucket-mouth is fooled into biting and comparing those notes to narrow the focus to the commonalities among bites will increase bass-catching success. School is never out of session for bass anglers, so don’t forget your one-page report is due.