Scott Suggs explains why the offseason should be for improving weaknesses rather than perfecting strengths. Photo by Garrick Dixon

You watch the anglers on the Bass Pro Tour, and there are people who are great at certain things. Shallow-water gurus, deep-water gurus, or dock gurus are just some of them that come to mind.

When you’re in your offseason as an angler (like we are right now), and you’re not fishing tournaments, you should be doing the things to make you a better angler by the time the next season rolls around.

It’s all about gaining comfort and becoming a more versatile angler, if you’re currently working to make the move to being a professional. You’re not going to make it to the big leagues if you’re only good at one technique or at one time of the year.

For example, when I was coming up through the ranks of the local tournaments and stuff like that, I was a terrible shallow-water fisherman. I grew up in a crappie boat, fishing suspended fish and trees. I hated fishing the bank, it was like a haunted house to me. But I made myself to get better on the bank, and I did it during the fall and winter months. If I wanted to start to win and be competitive, I was going to have to put the time and effort into working on the things I knew I wasn’t good at or didn’t like to fish.

Take Advantage of the Time

If you’re a weekend angler trying to get better and maybe be competitive in your local tournaments or move up through the ranks, you have to take advantage of this time period from October to the beginning of February. That’s four months, a third of the year, you can spend learning and perfecting other techniques.

The best thing about it: taking time out of your day to learn these things you’re not good at isn’t costing you anything. You can’t lose a tournament learning how to fish shallow right now. You can’t miss a cut by trying out a new bait that you haven’t tried before.

This period of the year is all about improving, and there aren’t many of those. When tournament time comes, it’s all about trying to do whatever you can to win or make a cut. Now, it’s about adding to your arsenal so when the time comes to make a cut or win, you have something extra in your bag of tricks.

There are guys who I fish with back home in Arkansas who are good enough to be out on tour and fishing professionally. They’re so good at fishing shallow that it’s tough for anyone to beat them if the fish are in 6 feet of water or less. But as soon as those fish move out deeper, they can’t catch them.

There was a regional tournament a little bit ago and the fish were all going to be out deep and suspended. Because of that, a couple of those guys I mentioned who qualified for that regional didn’t even go because they knew they weren’t going to catch them. That’s so crazy to me. Why not use this time to get better so that if another deep water tournament comes around, you’ll be ready instead sitting it out at home.

If you’re a shallow-water guy, there’s not better time to learn how to fish deep then the wintertime. If you go out there and truly practice, there are bites out there to be had. All that’s going to do is give you confidence in something you might not have thought you were any good at.

I wish someone would have given me this advice when I was working to move up the professional ladder. Hopefully, this helps someone out down the line.