Fishing in a Major League Fishing event is challenging enough.
There’s the field of competition, the best professional bass anglers in the business. Then there’s the unknown venue until the morning of the competition itself. Don’t forget the three periods of competition with a 30-minute break – wanted or not – sandwiched in between. And of course, there are the rules, the boat officials and the ongoing stress meter known as the SCORETRACKER LIVE! leaderboard.
But even with all of that, things can get even more intense when a new, unexpected wrinkle gets added.
And in this case, that wrinkle came in the form of MLF officials coming by the boats of competitors to make an early morning, pre-launch clarification about the zone that the anglers were going to fish in today.
In this case, mere seconds after finishing up my interview with former MLF champ Brent Ehrler, such a visit brought quite a change to the equation.
As in a whole lot more water to fish as word was passed around that the zone open for fishing on this particular day was considerably bigger than Ehrler and the others had originally understood it to be.
Which caused my recorder’s microphone to get turned on again as I posed a new question to Ehrler: “Ok, now what since you’ve gone from a small area to something the size of…Lake Michigan?”
As he often does, Ehrler seemed virtually unfazed, shrugging his shoulders a bit and letting the wheels begin to turn in his head as he tried to plot his next move.
“It opens things up a lot more,” he smiled. “I assumed (earlier) we were going to be in a smaller stretch, but right now, there’s a lot of water that has been opened up for us to fish.”
How much of an effect will that have on today’s field? That remains to be seen since like the other competitors who also fish on the FLW Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series circuits, Ehrler does have some previous experience on Eufaula.
Albeit at a different time of the year and from several years ago.
The California pro, who won the very first MLF Summit Cup when it was staged on Texas’ Lake Amistad a few years ago, indicated that little if any of that experience would factor into what he would be doing today however.
“I have fished here (before in previous events) and I recognize a lot of the zone we’re going to fish today, but again, I didn’t catch them well,” said Ehrler. “And where I did catch them (in the past), it’s stuff that I can’t duplicate (today) because I found them offshore and they were on specific spots.”
Here in the early part of fall, as warm stagnant conditions and the transition time from summer to fall conspire to bring tough fishing, Ehrler was already in a bit of a quandary about where to search and what to begin with.
With the added news of a much bigger section of water to fish, his brow wrinkled a bit as he scanned the electronics on his boat with renewed interest.
“It’s going to be a tricky deal,” said Ehrler. “There’s a LOT of water open right now. I already have some (new) things that I want to look at based on having that big of a zone.”
With that new wrinkle – and the week’s tough fishing conditions in the warm early autumn season – in mind, I asked Ehrler if his versatility as an angler would help or hurt the cause.
“It hurts you,” said Ehrler, the 2006 FLW Tour’s Forrest Wood Cup champion. “If you go out and you’re a specialist, you’re going to go out and do what you are confident in.
“When you are versatile and you do a lot of different things, you tend to get spun out because there are so many different things that you want to try,” he added.
“You’re up (shallow) throwing a frog in a foot of water, then you’re out throwing a crankbait in 20-feet of water. Then you’re pitching a dock, then you’re over cranking rip-rap, then you’re out throwing a frog again, then you’re out cranking in 25-feet of water again.
“You start running in too many directions and it spins you out.”
As Ehrler has learned in winning one MLF championship and making the Championship Round of competition in four other events, you don’t want to get spun out as a MLF angler.
To try and keep that from happening early on in the day, one of the sport’s most versatile anglers indicated that he would really be paying attention to what the fish were telling him with the first bite or two of the day.
“In Major League Fishing, it’s real important to pick up on some sort of a key and run it,” said Ehrler. “Because you have to be able to go in a direction in a hurry. If you do not go in a certain direction, then you’re doing that running around, spun out kind of a deal.
“So yes, that’s my big thing in MLF, you have to get on some sort of a key quick to get you going in a certain direction.”
Especially when there are miles – and even a few more miles added in for good measure – of top shelf Alabama bass water to decipher on the fly.
But then again that’s the amazing attraction of MLF fishing, watching the best pros in the world compete on a level playing field while they fish by the proverbial seat of their pants.
All the while as the Outdoor Channel television cameras roll and record the action for all of the world to see.