Practice and preparation. Sounds like something a high school baseball or football coach might tell an incoming class of ninth-graders on the first day of workouts.
But they also are words that Rick Clunn uses often when asked what keeps him at the top of his game, 21 years into the rat race that is professional bass fishing.
"Productive and enjoyable days fishing are based upon education and preparation," said Clunn, who has won the B.A.S.S. Masters Classic four times. "When you arrive, you must have a plan and a starting point already selected. Time is precious."
Clunn, who has finished in the money in 70 percent of the tournaments he has fished, said that serious bass fishermen need to be plugged into the information network.
"Join groups and clubs. Exchange and soak up information," Clunn said. "By reading organization magazines, fishing with anglers more knowledgeable than yourself and tapping into a network of sources, you'll learn the season puzzle [of bass] much more."
Bass and other fish follow seasonal patterns and knowing those patterns will help the fishermen identify the 10 percent of the water where 90 percent of the fish are.
"We're visual creatures. We are attracted to and tempted by things that appear attractive," Clunn said. "Anglers waste precious time fishing areas that look good but have no production based on seasonal fish migrations."
And where a recreational fisherman might be limited to what knowledge might be gleaned from the guy behind the counter at a sporting goods store, imprecise locater maps or even topographical maps that can help unravel the mysteries of lake or reservoir bottoms, Clunn goes a step further.
He rents a plane and flies over the waters he will fish. "Renting a plane may sound crazy to recreational fishermen," Clunn said. "But almost any impoundment can be studied in detail from a plane in 60 to 90 minutes. . . . There's no way you can cover the same distance as thoroughly or economically by boat."
That 60- to 90-minute plane ride, Clunn estimates, will cost between $100 and $150.
And the information gathered can be a reference used for years.
When Clunn takes a flyer, he takes along a lake map and notes areas of clear and muddy water, vegetation, docks, structure and cover.
Then, when the fish are hitting on a dock pattern in a lake new to him, for example, he knows where next series of docks can be found, quickly and easily.
O.C. Tuna Tournament
In August 1977, Cecil Browne of Trappe was aboard his 38-footer Wild Thyme off Ocean City, trolling for tuna along the 20-fathom line, when a big fish hit. Four hours later, Browne had landed a 375-pound bigeye, which remains the IGFA all-tackle world record.
During the Ocean City Tuna Tournament, July 13-16, the angler who breaks Browne's record will win $50,000, in addition to other cash prizes in the competition.
The tournament, which runs out of the Ocean City Fishing Center, offers prizes for largest fish, most fish caught by weight and most fish tagged and released. Last year the payout exceeded $80,000.
L Eligible species include bigeye, yellowfin and bluefin tuna.
For tournament information, call (800) 322-3065.
Rags to rags
Rags, a popular sailing publication in the tidewater area, has folded, according to editor Jack Sherwood, after a possible sale of the paper to Chesapeake Bay magazine failed.