Pre-Season Recon
Keep Your Mind And Body In Shape

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photo: BassFan
Bassmaster Elite Series pro Kelly Jordon says hunting and reading both play an integral part in his offseason mental tune-up.

As noted in last week’s installment of Recon, just because this season’s over doesn’t mean there’s nothing for the serious angler to do in order to be prepared for the next. Tackle preparation and upkeep, boat maintenance and even a little homework will put you ahead of the curve come that first tournament.

Pre-season preparation is tantamount among the pros for many reasons. First, it allows them to reflect on the past year with respect to what worked for them and what didn’t, but it also allows them to make sure their equipment is in top order prior to pulling out of the driveway that first trip across the country.

Although state-hopping tour pros do things a little differently than the normal weekend angler – like replace their boats every year – there are many parallels and tips that can be used by any tournament angler who's looking for an edge.

This week we visit the state of Texas in order to pick Elite Series pro Kelly Jordon’s brain about his off-season regimen.

Here’s what he had to say.

New Equipment

When posed the question of, “What do you do in the off-season to prepare for next year,” Jordon, without hesitation, said, “I stay up to speed on the new products that are coming out for spring.”

He fully believes in becoming familiar with each advancement made in the industry.

“We have to know everything about the new equipment our sponsors and others will be releasing, whether it’s a new Fenwick rod, Revo reel or Lucky Craft crankbait,” Jordon said. “The new equipment each year just amazes me, and if you don’t experiment with it you’ll fall behind in the technology and that can cost you on the water.

“And the new equipment I’m talking about isn’t just tackle,” he said. “I’m also talking about new electronics. Each year electronics get better and better and in order to fully understand them you have to read your manuals.


In order for Jordon to understand his new equipment, he makes trips to power-plant lakes where he knows the fish will be active even in winter.

“I don’t fish much during the off-season, but when I do, I go to lakes I know will have active fish,” he said. “In my area these are the power-plant lakes that have warmer water than other lakes and the warm water makes the fish bite all winter. Its not good to try new tackle on a tough lake where you may not catch anything – that won’t give you confidence in those new baits and confidence is so important at any level of fishing.”

Body and Mind

“I also spend time keeping in shape during the off-season,” Jordon said. “But it’s not just my body, I try to keep my mind in tune too.

“Fishing is a grueling sport and many people don’t realize that,” he said. “I’ve had people practice with me and by the second day they’re beat. There’s no way they could handle fishing 7 straight tournament days and then pack it up and to the same the next three weeks. It takes a lot of endurance.

“Hunting helps me keep in shape both physically and mentally,” he said. “Not only do I get a physical workout but I’m also working my mind too.

“All wildlife follows patterns – it doesn’t matter if it’s a bass, a deer or whatever – it’s amazing how you can relate your experiences in the field with experience on the water.

“It’s a way for me to take a break from fishing but still keep my mind sharp.”

He also spends time reading.

“Anything you can do to stimulate your brain is good. I read a lot of novels and autobiographies – anything to get my mind spinning."

Boat Maintenance

“Since I buy a boat every year my off-season boat work is making sure my motor is broken in properly, all my electronics are working and everything on the boat is in perfect working condition,” Jordon said. “In 9 years I haven’t had a mechanical failure in a tournament and I attribute that to the care I take in making sure everything is in top working order before the season begins.”

But many anglers out there don’t purchase a new boat every year and he offers these suggestions.

“For those that don’t buy a new boat every year you still have a lot to do in the off-season to make certain your boat doesn’t fail you,” he said. “Make sure you have routine maintenance done on your boat per the owner’s manual and have the fluids and filters replaced and checked before you put it up. Then, before you go out that first time take the boat back and have the fluids checked again. This is something people don’t do a lot, but over the course of a winter condensation can build up in reservoirs and in filters and this isn’t good for your motor.”


> Jordon also spends a lot of time doing homework for the coming year. “I study a lot of maps during the off-season. That way by the time I get to a lake or river I have a good idea what the layout is, and I don’t waste time running around the lake haphazardly.

> “I also look at old tournament results to get an idea what kind of weight I need to weigh in a tournament. For example people could go to Fork and feel comfortable with 20-pounds a day, yet that kind of weight might only get them a 50th-place finish. It’s important to know what you need going into unfamiliar waters.

> He also conducts most of his sponsor related tasks during the off-season. “I like to go over contracts during this time of year. It allows me to concentrate on work during the season.

> “I’ve learned the hard way to have all my ducks in a row before the season starts and I’ve found this preparation has made me a much better angler.”

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