Bass Fishing 101 With David Dudley
By Mickey Maynard
Professional bass fisherman David Dudley can make a shaky head worm slowly crawl up a submerged boulder and do a double back flip dismount. The Castrol Team Professional was in Plattsburgh recently competing in the FLW Tour event held on Lake Champlain. He finished a respectable 17th; winning $11,000 and bringing his career earnings above the 2 million dollar mark. The day after Dudley was eliminated he graciously spent a few hours on Lake Champlain giving my son Marshall and I a lesson in “Bass Fishing 101”.
After brief introductions, we left Plattsburgh’s Wilcox Dock in Dave’s graphic laden bass boat along with his young son Mason, and his nephew Phillip. We quickly cruised to our first stop, the Plattsburgh Boat Basin. Dudley wanted us all to catch fish, so what better place to start than the release point of the first two days of the FLW Tournament? With Mason and Phillip dropped off at the basin dock to fish and snack on French fries, we had plenty of room in the boat for Dave, Marshall and I. There were lots of fish around, and many were surprisingly willing to fall for yet another angler’s lure.
I was curious when Dave passed us each a jig-head and a watermelon colored, rubber Zoom Trick Worm. He hinted that this was his “go-to lure”. He then proceeded to give us a thorough explanation of the shaky head worm application. First he showed us how to attach the worm and bury the hook point to make the lure “weedless”. Dudley emphasized that patience and imagination are two important components of the shaky head worm technique. “You have to imagine a bass following the worm and slowly twitch and tease it along until that fish can’t stand the temptation any longer”, he said. Marshall was much more imaginative and efficient than I was on this particular day. With his new Kistler fishing rod, a gift from another pro, Marshall kept up with Dave as both caught numerous bass of the largemouth and smallmouth variety in the three-pound range.
As we cast around the docks Dudley talked about staying busy tournament fishing and how he has never taken his eye off the top prize. “Can a guy who fishes just a hand full of tournaments a year really call himself a professional”, he pondered. Dudley stays busy competing in FLW Tours and Series events as well as Bassmaster Tournaments. When he’s not on the professional trail, he’s striper fishing from his charter boat off the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Dave Dudley’s love for fishing has been with him since he was a young boy sharpening his skills from his father’s old boat. His drive to compete blossomed watching pro competitions in the early days of professional bass fishing. In fact, when he was young he would answer the phone, “David Dudley, Bassmaster Classic Champion”.
Dudley was originally a roofer by trade, but fishing was always his passion. He would calculate his earnings in terms of how much gas, tackle or time on the water it would allow him. Since 1994 he has been competing on the pro circuit and in 2002 he won the prestigious $700,000 M1, Ranger Championship. He has had numerous top ten finishes and has bested every big name angler on the professional circuit at one time or another. “No professional can finish first every time out, but if a guy averages above 22nd in these big events, he’s in the top ten percent of his group and that’s an extremely respectable place to be.” Dudley said.
Speaking of respect, I have a boatload for the anglers of the FLW. We spent time on the water with world-class people like Dave Dudley, Scott Martin and Randy Clark. We met many other fishermen during the four-day event and all were obliging, courteous and respectful. Some, like quadriplegic pro fisherman Clay Dyer, were beyond inspirational. Others like Dave Lefebre and his partner, who came to the aid of local father and son anglers caught on the lake in a thunderstorm, can be considered true heroes. All the pros were appreciative of the excellent bass fishing Lake Champlain has to offer. I’m sure they’ll make great stewards of our resource. It is this angler’s hope that lake management officials will get on board and work in cooperation with tournament organizers and the City of Plattsburgh to come up with a reasonable process so that we may continue to care for the fishery, benefit from the economic impact of tournaments, and promote Lake Champlain bass fishing opportunities for many years to come.
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