If you were like me when I started fishing, I didn't know much. I had recently ridden along with with a co-worker on a practice day for a BFL tournament. I didn't know what to expect, but after that day... I knew I liked it. I quickly found myself trying to figure all of this out. What kind of equipment do I need? How about a boat? I didn't even think about trying to figure out the bass, after all, my co-worker made it seem so easy! I'd be tournament fishing and winning money in no time. Then reality hit. I couldn't catch anything. I had no clue what I was doing. Luckily, I had a neighbor I had been talking to who was a member of a local club. As he began to tell me about it, the light came on... that would be a perfect learning opportunity.
Why would I join a club?
You may be wondering, especially if you're a beginner, why would I join a club? How would that help?
So much of what we learn as humans is learned through experience or watching someone else do something. A lot of the basics of bass fishing are the same. Seeing what equipment someone uses or how they use it, for example, is how I first learned to bass fish - throwing the good ole' Carolina Rig. But there's more to it than that... Being on the boat with someone for 8 hours in a club tournament is not just a good social time, but if the partner you've been paired with has been fishing for a while, you have a teacher. He may not be trying to teach you, but watch and learn. I always try to learn something from whoever I'm fishing with. How does he handle his boat and trolling motor? How does he approach fishing structure? How long does he take to fish certain areas? Note the places he will fish and the places he won't. The learning possibilities are significant if you are just starting out.
Now, you do want to make sure you have some basics in place before you go and join a club - so take a look at this beginners guide if you are truly just starting out. There are are some tips and product suggestions that will help you get going.
So just join any club, right?
Not exactly. Not all clubs are the same. Clubs have personalities and skill level tolerance. Some clubs may require that you own a boat, some do not. Some clubs may expect that you are a seasoned angler and some are more apt to teach. The challenge is to find a club that fits your personality while also being tolerant to the fact that you might not have a boat or the fact that you aren't going to be catching 16 pounds sacks when you join. Ensuring that the clubs knows that you are learning is important so that there are no misunderstandings. So start asking around in our Facebook Group, the forums in this community or take a look in our Clubs Area.
Every week you fish in your club is a learning opportunity. The amount of knowledge you will be gaining, especially if you are new to bass fishing, is significant. Keeping a journal or log is a good way to document what you have learned about a day on the water. Bass Intelligence offers a convenient Fishing Journal to document your trips for private use, or to share with the community. Take a look at this article on why keeping a fishing journal can help you catch more fish.
Many will find a club that they enjoy fishing with and stick with it. You like the fellowship or you have friends there and you settle in. If you want to continue growing beyond the skill level in your club, you can start to fish other tournament trails like the Bass Fishing League (BFL) or join a B.A.S.S Nation affiliated club. If you think you want to get into more serious tournaments, those are good starting points. It is definitely recommended that you sign up as a co-anger, especially at first. It is expected that the boaters are experienced and your co-angler will expect that of you as well.
So, go out and find a club and start learning. It will dramatically flatten the learning curve compared to trying to learn on your own by watching YouTube and weekend fishing shows.
Have a positive club experience? Tell us about it in the comments.