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What to Fish and How When Your Bass-Fishing Confidence Is Lower Than a Snake’s Belly with Woo Daves

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Editor’s Note: Woo Daves of Spring Grove, Virginia, started tournament bass fishing in 1973 and has been active in that for more than four decades. “I’ve been fishing, since I was old enough to walk,” Daves explains. He’s qualified for two FLW Championships (, and won the World Bass Fishing Championship and the Bassmaster Classic ( in 2000. He’s qualified for 20 different world championships and says, “My success in bass fishing isn’t too bad for an ole country boy.” Let’s look at how Daves catches bass on a bad day.

One of the problems that most bass fishermen have is that if they’re not catching bass during the first part of the day, they’ll begin to lose their confidence and their ability to find bass, choose lures and catch bass. But professional fishermen have just the opposite mentality when they’re not catching bass. They always expect to catch one on the next cast. Their confidence increases because over the years they’ve learned that you can catch as many – if not more bass – in the last 1/2-hour of the day, as you can catch in the first 1/2-hour of the day.

One time I was trying to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic ( being held at Buggs Island (Kerr Lake) in Virginia. For 9 straight years, I’d had the biggest stringer of bass on the last day of the last tournament and made the cutoff for the Bassmaster Classic. In this tournament, I had 12 minutes left before I had to leave and make the run to the weigh-in with a limit of bass that weighed 10-1/2-pounds in my livewell. I knew that 10-1/2-pounds of bass wouldn’t be enough to win a berth in the Classic, because most of the fishermen in that tournament had 10 pounds of bass. I told myself, “Woo, you only have 10 minutes left to make the Classic.” I looked in front of me, and I saw four bushes out in the water, just ahead of me. I was fishing a Zoom Lizard ( with a really-light weight in front of it. Out of those four bushes, I caught four, 4-pound bass quickly, and upgraded my limit to 17 pounds. Many anglers wouldn’t have fished that last 10 minutes. But I wanted to qualify for that Classic.

In another bass tournament held on Bulls Shoals Lake in Arkansas, on the last day of that tournament, I had a limit of bass that weighed only about 8 pounds. I’d caught those bass on a Wiggle Wart crankbait ( Finally, I picked up my flipping stick, started flipping bushes and caught a 5 pounder. Ray Scott, who owned BASS at that time, came up and asked me, “Woo, do you think you’re going to qualify for the Classic this year?” I said, “I believe I’ll need to catch 17-18 pounds of bass today to make the Classic.” Scott took his cowboy hat off, wiped his brow and announced, “Well, Woo, that’s a tall order.”

When I was running back to the boat ramp, I spotted a bush under the water. I looked at my watch and realized I only had 5 minutes left to fish. I motored my boat over close to the bush, moved toward it, slowly flipped a lizard into the bush, hooked and landed a 7-pound largemouth. I had the biggest catch for any day of the tournament with that fish anchored by a 5 pounder and 7 pounder, and I made the Classic that year. I want to show that regardless of how bad the day has been, if you don’t lose your confidence, you can catch big bass in the last 1/2-hour of a tournament or a day of fishing, if you continue to try and think of places and ways to fish that last 30 minutes.

Just because you’ve fished 4 hours without getting a bite doesn’t mean that you won’t catch 20 pounds of bass in the next cove. To turn a bad day into a good day, always believe that you’ll catch the bass off that next point, in that next cove or in that next little bay, and many times you’ll be right. I’ve noticed other anglers that I’ve fished with give up by not making as many casts at the end of the day as they have at the first of the day, not watching their lines as carefully for bites, and not fishing their lures with the same intensity that they have at the first of the day. They’re looking off into the sky or watching squirrels playing in the treetops when their lures are in the water. You often can catch the best bass of the day in the very last second that you have to fish.

I was fishing a tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Florida and had 28 pounds of bass in my livewell. In the last 5 minutes before I had to leave to check in, I caught an 8 pounder that catapulted me in to fishing the Bassmaster Classic that year. A great bass fisherman who is having a bad day will say to himself, “I’ve fished every place in this lake where I can’t catch a bass. So, I’ve got to be closing in on the spot where there’s a big bass and/or a lot of bass. I’ll probably catch that bass on the next cast.” You never can give up on yourself, regardless of how bad the day has been. When I’m fishing with a partner, and I’ve caught five bass, and he hasn’t caught any, I’ll often turn to him and say, “Keep fishing. The bass will come to you. Just don’t give up.” On many days bass won’t come to you until the end of the day. But on some days the bass will come to you, if you don’t give up.

To learn more about Woo Daves, visit

How and Why to Fish a Storm Wiggle Wart:


To learn more about bass fishing and get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, print books and audiobook on bass fishing, go to, or for Nook books, visit

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