What's the one thing every fisherman should have in their tackle box? I'm sure if I asked that question to a dozen fishermen, I'd probably get a dozen answers. It would be a reasonable question to ask what type of fishing a person is doing before answering a question like that. Or maybe we should find out if they are fishing from a boat, shore or wade fishing. What about offshore guys? Their gear looks totally different!
Well I have one thing that every fisherman has to have, no matter what he's after, if he wants to have the best chance of succeeding. That item is "Unreasonable Confidence".
Unreasonable confidence? What the heck is that? Why should anyone be unreasonable?
I rarely watch TV anymore, even outdoors shows, but sometimes I really like to watch Major League Fishing. It's fun to see those guys in the moment and how they adapt to the pressure. I like watching their reaction to the leader board changes and what decisions they make.
One thing I've really enjoyed examining is how the guys at the bottom of the score card still exude confidence that they can pull off a win or at least finish in the top few. Even when they are being bombarded with score updates, they continue to talk like they have a chance. And many times they find a way to move back into the pack.
Now you may say that those guys don't really believe what they're saying, that's just for TV. I can guarantee that those guys do believe it, or they wouldn't be there. They have "Unreasonable Confidence".
I have said for many years that the mental aspect of fishing is by far the most important. Maybe if you're one of those guys uses fishing as an excuse to drink beer then its not. For those of us who take it very seriously, you've got to have your mental game dialed in. It is my belief that "Unreasonable Confidence" is the key.
Webster defines unreasonable as:not governed by or acting according to reason.
"Unreasonable Confidence" means having confidence that you are going to catch that fish of a lifetime, or that livewell of a lifetime, every time you are on the water. It means that you believe those fish are down there waiting to bite if you just do your part. It means that you believe at any moment a life changing catch is about to happen. It means that you know you're going to outsmart the fish today no matter what the circumstances look like. You have to be completely unreasonable.
Why is it unreasonable? It's unreasonable because no one catches the fish of a lifetime on every outing. No one has an overflowing livewell every time. Nobody has life changing catch on every fishing trip. That's why its called fishing and not catching! And yet I'm asking you to believe its possible, why would I do that?
To be successful at fishing you have to be running a feedback loop. That means you are constantly taking information in, analyzing it and using it to adjust your technique, location and offering. Some people refer to it as "reading the water". It means your taking into account everything you can see about the water/fish, any thing your learning from the fish biting or not biting, and you're processing it through all of your experiences and any knowledge you've gained. Then you take all of that and use it to adjust your actions and start the process over again. You continue to do that until you get the desired result.
Now let me ask you, If you knew for a fact their were no fish in the lake you were fishing, would you go through all the processing of the feedback loop in your mind? No! If you knew that Fish and Game came out and killed all the fish a week before you showed up, your mind wouldn't let you process a loop. It would just give you dead end. It would keep saying "Hey Dummy, there's no fish in here!!!"
On the other hand "Unreasonable Confidence" is just the opposite of that. It prevents your mind from interrupting the feedback loop with negative thoughts that can derail progress being made. In fact its like having cheer leaders for your feedback loop! Its egging you on, "You're almost there!", "They're going to bite anymoment", "Yes that is the color that's going to light them up!!!".
With no mental inhibitions in the way, you can process all the data faster and therefore make the most of your time. So next time you're out on the water, try to be a little more UNREASONABLE!!!