PREVIEW: Short-Term Memories of Long Lake - Major League Fishing

PREVIEW: Short-Term Memories of Long Lake

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March 21, 2018 • Rob Newell • Cup Events

All week at the 2018 Summit Cup in Alpena, Michigan, early-morning launch talk centered around who had fished which lakes during previous MLF visits to Alpena.

With each daily round, some pros had previously fished the lake, some had not and some had no idea whether they did or not and did not really care. After five days of comparing notes each morning through Elimination and Sudden Death, it was determined that having fished the lakes previously was no guarantee for advancement. At the same time, some who had never seen the lakes before had no problem moving on.

Despite that fact, when the final day’s caravan of eight anglers pulled up to Long Lake for the Championship Round, the questioning and comparing began.

Long Lake was used in the lake rotation for the first Alpena Summit Cup in 2014. When the anglers were given their maps, they were busy trying to remember if Long Lake had been the Sudden Death lake or the Championship lake in the previous Cup event. Memories of Long Lake appeared to be only short term.

Timmy Horton and Bobby Lane were the first two trying to figure it out.

“I think I fished this one,” Horton said. “But I also fished the Championship Round last time and I can’t remember which one this was.”

Lane remembered fishing Long, too, but did not advance to the Championship Round.

Lane then asked Skeet Reese for clarification.

“I have no idea which lake this one was,” Skeet said. “But then again, I didn’t remember much about the first lake we fished this week, either.”

Aaron Martens then offered his two cents on which lake Long was.

“I think I remember this lake,” Martens said, then recanted that with, “But not really.”

“Did I win here?” Martens then asked. “I think I won here before, didn’t I? No, I think I just advanced off this lake.”

The question became such an issue that the MLF Commissioner Don Rucks finally announced to the whole group that Long Lake was the Sudden Death lake the last time the Cup was in Alpena, just to clear the air.

Of the eight pros who made it to Championship Round, four had been to Long before: Lane, Martens, Horton and Reese; while the others had not.

Martens didn’t seem to even care about the topic.

“Why are we talking about this anyway?” Martens asked. “It really doesn’t matter; that was a long time ago.”

Horton agreed with Martens, but did add that knowing which species and whether the lake was a “numbers lake” or a “quality lake” does affect overall strategy.

“Each one of these lakes has a little different personality,” Horton explained. “Some had a few more largemouths in them than others. And in terms of smallmouth, one of them had much better quality and the others were more numbers lakes. I think Hubbard was the quality lake that had more four-pluses in it and this one (Long) is the one that had numbers.”

“I’m not trying to remember these lakes for location purposes, very rarely do productive spots work again years later, especially with smallmouth,” Horton said. “But knowing roughly what the species ratio is and whether it is a numbers lake or quality lake is a big help.”

Though he’s fished Long before, Lane believes those who have never fished the lake before have a better chance at doing well.

“Sometimes the worst thing you can do in fishing is return to the very same spot where you caught them before,” Lanes said. “Especially when it’s been all over TV and your dealing with smallmouth. Those guys who have never been here have the cleanest heads right now and this format seems to favor that. The rest of us will be looking at those shoals and breaks, thinking: did I fish that one before? Did I catch one off of it? And it clogs your mind up for sure.”

Jacob Wheeler is one who has never fished Long before and that notion did not bother him one bit.

“What if I had fished it before? How’s that going to help me?” Wheeler asked. “I saw the shows; I know this place has gott’em; I know it’s mostly smallmouth – I’m good; I’ve got all I need to know. Now it’s up to me to put my head down and go out there and find them.”

“To me, what’s important here is that the Championship Round is a different format than the Sudden Death round and that means you have to fish differently,” Wheeler detailed. “Sudden Death is all about just catching fish as fast as possible, from anywhere, on any lure. But when you fish all day, like in the Championship Round, that’s a different mindset. You really need to establish a solid pattern or two that will last all day and keep producing fish to go the distance – quick fixes here and there won’t cut it.”

Mike Iaconelli also liked the prospects of having never been on Long before.

“I know we say this all the time, and I’m sure it sounds counter intuitive to beginners, but at this level, when you’re competing against this caliber of guys in this format, the less history in your head can actually be better,” Iaconelli explained. “I always say fish the moment. And fishing the moment is much easier when you have never been to a place before because you have no choice but to fish the moment. So when I’m told that some of these guys have fished here and I haven’t, I honestly see no advantage to that at all – they’re going to be fighting off memories, which many times can be rabbit trails.”

“I watched the shows,” Ike continued. “I think I have enough of an idea of how this lake sets up to compete with the guys who have already been here. I’m happy to be back on a smallmouth lake for the final go around here and looking forward to the Championship Round.”