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Information in professional bass tournaments has been a part of the sport for years. Even in B.A.S.S. Elite and FLW Tour events, where there are information cut-offs and pros are no longer allowed to talk to non-competitors beyond a certain point in time, the competitors themselves still share considerable amounts of information amongst each other during practice and the tournament and that in-tournament information greatly influences tournament strategy and decisions.
Take Mike Iaconelli and Ish Monroe for instance. For the last eight years, the two pros have been roommates on the B.A.S.S. Elite Series and have shared pattern information with each other after practice and tournament days.
“We share everything except exact fishing locations and waypoints,” says Ish. “Baits, colors, line sizes, water colors, pattern info, forage info – all that is fair game. It’s a huge benefit to all of us. John Crews rooms with us as well on the Elites and we all benefit from putting all our observations together at the end of the day to figure out what’s going on at a lake.”
Ike says assimilating information like that is like having access to a super-bass-fishing computer at the end of each day.
“After a 12-hour practice day, each one of us has gathered a lot of information individually,” Ike explains. “But when we pile it all together, it’s like having access to 36 hours of fishing information instead of 12.”
In terms of the speed in breaking down a lake under the current conditions, it’s like a present-day computer compared to one that’s three years old.
“We never share locations, but the other details like productive lure sizes, actions and colors can be critical,” Ike adds.
In most cases, having access to such information from other top pros is a benefit. But other times it can drown out the inner voice of true fishing intuition.
In the innovative MLF format, information rules are taken to a whole new level, as in pros in the event are strictly forbidden to share anything at all with each other every day of the event. They cannot even reveal to their fellow pros if they advanced to the next round or not.
“It’s certainly different in the evenings at MLF events,” Ike says. “At night, instead of talking about the day’s fishing, we talk about the stock market and politics.
“Okay, maybe not the stock market and politics,” he laughs. “But the point is, we can’t discuss the day’s tournament events with each other. It’s completely different than other pro tournaments where we can, and do, discuss details relative to the event we are fishing.
“And now that we have completed three MLF events, we are all starting to realize that what we are doing here is truly revolutionary,” Ike points out. “Never in the history of professional fishing have we as anglers been tested in this way.”
Specifically what Ike is referring to is that even though B.A.S.S. and FLW events are cut off from non-competitor information, pro-to-pro information is still free flowing and has a major influence on decision making. But at MLF, the information environment is, for the first-time, truly sterile.
“That does several things that we have never experienced,” Ike details. “For one, we cannot blame bad performances on outside influences. On the drive home from a bad event, it’s easy to look back and say to myself, ‘Well, because I knew such and such was catching them a certain way, I was swayed away from what I was going to do and that kind of got me off track.’
“At MLF, it’s all on me,” Ike says candidly. “There is no one to blame for poor performance. If I suck, I can’t make excuses like, ‘Well, if I had never heard this was working or that wasn’t working, I wouldn’t have made the decisions I made.’ Since I never hear anything that can affect my decisions, it’s all on me. And when I do poorly at MLF events, it burns really deep, because deep down I know I made all of the decisions with no outside influences. There is no one to blame but myself.”
At the same time, Ike says the contrary is true.
“The only way to fish totally free and open yourself up completely to the moment in fishing – which is the purest and most rewarding form of what we do – is not to be influenced by outside notions. Because MLF rules have cleansed the venue of all those outside influences, fishing purely by intuition and being open to the moment is far more available at MLF. And when you make the right moves by listening only to your gut-level decisions and fishing the moment freely and you do well, it is very rewarding.”
Ike adds that even though he strives to always fish the moment in all tournaments, it is only human nature in competition to want to assimilate as much available information as possible and that can get in the way of totally fishing free in the moment.
“MLF has removed all that background flow of information from our arena, which is so cool,” he adds. “Because now, it’s all on me.”
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