Whisker Whackers

Planning, Preparation, Perseverance & Patience

catfish, tournament, tips, Bama Blues, Wilson Lake, Alabama,

Practicing the Four P’s of fishing on Wilson Lake

by Hugh Thompson

Luck is always a factor in catfishing success. Skill is also a factor. Over the past year, a good friend and great angler, Carson Pierce convinced me that it was not my fishing skills that were lacking. It was the “Four P’s” of fishing—Planning, Preparation, Perseverance, and Patience.

catfish, tournament, tips, Bama Blues, Wilson Lake, Alabama,
Howard (left) and Thompson (right)  teamed up to fish the Bama Blues Catfish Trail on Wilson Lake in Alabama.

It was exactly these four things that recently made the difference for me and my partner, John Howard. We were fishing the Bama Blues Catfish Trail tournament on Wilson Lake.

Everywhere I go I see a lot of beginning anglers wanting to learn more about catfishing. So, as we’re coming upon a new season, I’d like to take a few minutes to pass on a few things that I feel were critical to our performance at Wilson. These things made a difference between a win and a loss.

After talking with expert anglers like Tim “Doc” Lange we had an idea what the fish had been doing fairly recently. In addition, we spent a while scanning and fishing the night before the event. We were able to find both an ample amount of foraging fish and a den full over big overs.

Our plan was to anchor on the big fish first. If we could land one or even two good overs, we could switch to dragging baits to catch our unders. We expected dragging to catch more fish and we could spend the remainder of our time catching and improving our unders to between 15 – 20 pounds. We followed our plan to a tee and it paid off big.

catfish, tournament, tips, Bama Blues, Wilson Lake, Alabama,
Thompson and Howard used the Four P’s of fishing to earn second place at Bama Blues on Wilson.

Prior to the tournament we pretied rigs and stowed them in a RIGRAP box. This preparation proved to be vital as we raced against the clock for the last few hours of the tournament.

We got hung up in trees, trotlines, and our lines got twisted and tangled. We had to cut lines and rig back up repeatedly. When you are pulling 13 rods, I can promise you there’s no time to spare.

Having pre-tied, tangle-free rigs, ready to go in our RIGRAPs made all the difference in the world by making our time on the water far more productive. We improved our 6-pound under to roughly 15 pounds. That was enough to make the difference between first and second place.

Strong coffee helps when you’re fishing an all-night tournament. But it’s attitude and quality of the equipment that makes the difference. I have never seen a fishing rod take the abuse that our B’n’M Rods took. They never once let us down. Backing them up was Pipeline Tackle Supertuned Reels. Combined they were an unstoppable force.

Still, it can be difficult to maintain your stamina in a long tourney. I think of my good friends down at M & J Catfish Wars. They have some of the longest tournaments around and they do it because of their love for fishing. Every time I get tired, I think about that and get up glad that I’m fishing and do what I can to make it count.

A good partner helps too. John’s attitude is incredible when the going gets tough. That alone made things so much better.

catfish, tournament, Bama Blues, Alabama, fishing
Thompson and Howard are shown here with the 60.55-pound blue that won Big Fish at Bama Blues Trail on Wilson Lake. 

If you’ve ever gone fishing or fished in a competitive environment, you’re probably familiar with how easy it can be to make a choice that turned out to be a bad decision. This particular night we almost made that fatal mistake.

After sitting for over an hour without a bite, it seemed the fish we had marked the night before had moved on. We set a time frame to leave and our first bite came just minutes before we were going to reel up and move.

After the first fish, which weighed about 35 pounds, it was another twenty minutes before we landed another. It was a nice 45 pounder. After that, we were glad we had not made the mistake to leave. That decision pointed out the importance of patience.

As time went on, we ended up catching multiple overs and nothing under 30 pounds except for a few dinks. The biggest of the dinks was the 6 pounder that we later culled.

I learn something every day and will never know enough to satisfy my desire to learn all I can about catfishing. I hope that our experience at the Bama Blues tournament on Wilson helps others understand the importance of the “Four P’s” of catfishing—especially the newcomers to the sport.

Until next time…
Tight Lines, Bent Rods, and Screaming Drags.

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