Oak Orchard River Bass Anglers

September 2017


Intuition, better known as “gut feeling”, plays an important part in successful tournament bass angling.  The very best of the very best competitive bass anglers are those anglers that trust their intuition and act on it immediately and without question or doubt.  While this is true, it is also true that most bass anglers have no comprehension of exactly what intuition really is or how it works.  Because they don’t understand it, most bass anglers don’t act when intuition happens.  What follows is my understanding of intuition and how it works.

First, we have to define intuition.  My definition of intuition is “knowledge obtained subconsciously, and without reasoned thought, through sensual experience.”  We are all born with sensory perception.  We see, hear, feel, smell and taste.  These sensory perceptions happen subconsciously and without thought or effort on our part.  We don’t think about what we see, hear, feel, smell or taste.  Normally we are totally unaware of what we see, hear, feel, smell or taste unless we are specifically focused on something specific or out of the ordinary.  For example, you are unaware of the sounds of the cars passing your house as you read your morning paper until one of those cars beeps it horn, slams on its brakes or hits your mailbox.

While it is true that you are consciously unaware of most of what you see, hear, feel, smell or taste, your senses are not.  Your senses subconsciously record and remember every sight, sound, feeling, smell or taste that you ever encounter.  As your senses gain more experience, patterns start to emerge.  Subconsciously, your senses start to relate particular sights with particular feelings, smells, sounds and tastes.  The more experiences that you have, the more correlations your senses accumulate and the stronger the patterns become.  Eventually, when a pattern becomes strong enough, it triggers conscious thought.  As an angler, you suddenly get an overwhelming “gut feeling” to fish in a particular way at a particular location.  This is not a fluke or random feeling suddenly arising out of nowhere.  It is a conscious manifestation of a sensual pattern that had previously only existed at the subconscious level.

This “gut feeling” is a conscious manifestation of a pattern that has been identified through your own past sensory experience.  Since this experience was obtained without conscious thought, what it identifies is pure knowledge, untainted by either emotion or intellect.  In addition, since this knowledge is obtained subconsciously, it defies logical explanation.  It makes no logical sense because it was not created rationally through the use of intellect and reasoned thought.  Since it is not rational, our logical big brain immediately attempts to reject it.  Rationalism and logic are grounded in intellect, reasoned thought and deductive reasoning.  Rational, deductive reasoning is the basis of logic and scientific thought.  All are products of the bigger brain.  Intuition, on the other hand, is knowledge based strictly on sensual experiences.  One source of knowledge is not necessarily better than another.  They are simply different because different methods were used to obtain the knowledge.  The existence of one shouldn’t, and doesn’t, preclude the existence of the other.  Neither does it impact the validity of the knowledge.  What really matters is the knowledge, not how it is obtained.

This is just an educated guess on my part, but it seems likely to me that intuitive thought has existed much longer than logic and deductive reasoning.  It is hard for me to imagine that the first human that boarded a raft and set a course to cross a body of water so wide that the other side was not visible did so based on logic and deductive reasoning.  He, or she, had to have acted based on intuition.  There is no way that he, or she, could have logically deduced that another land mass existed on the other side of that body of water.  It is clear to me that without intuition mankind would not exist today.  Knowledge is knowledge.  It is no less true because we do not understand how we obtained.  The sun always rises in the east whether or not we understand why.

Bass are incapable of thought, rational or otherwise.  Bass are instinctive creatures that survive strictly on instinct and sensual perception.  Bass are incapable of thought and they are incapable of emotion.  Learning for bass is nothing more than fine tuning instinct and sensual perception through experience.  Until we developed our bigger brain, we too were instinctive creatures that survived based on instinct and sensual perception.  Developing a bigger brain did not eliminate our senses.  However, the development of a bigger brain allowed us to learn to ignore them.

Logic and reason, both the products of a bigger brain, allow us to rationalize away our sensual perceptions as inferior when compared to intellect.  Unfortunately, intellect and rational thought doesn’t make it so.  We may very well be the greatest thinking animal to ever evolve, but we remain an animal with basic instincts and senses none the less.  Intuition is simply a reminder of from whence we came and a big part of how we got here.  Intuition is the original source of knowledge and knowledge is knowledge regardless of how it is obtained.  A smart angler would encourage intuition and learn to trust it completely.

It is my opinion that as an angler you can do certain things to help intuition become conscious thought.  One way to do it is to keep and maintain an even balance between intellect and emotion.  Senses can be ignored or suppressed intellectually.  We can simply rationalize them away.  Emotion can blur and distort sensual perception as well.  The beauty of intuition is that in its purest form it is untainted by either intellect or emotion.  It is therefore knowledge in its purest form.  It is knowledge grounded on nothing but past sensual experience.  The very best tournament bass anglers perform best when they have harmony in their life.  That harmony allows for a balanced mix of intellect and emotion and opens the door for intuition to occur.  These are the anglers most likely to receive and accept intuition.

A second way to encourage intuition is to take a break.  Since intuition can be suppressed by intellect or emotion, over reacting, emotionally or intellectually, can prevent intuition from becoming conscious thought.  Taking a breather, a time out if you will, allows an opportunity for sensual perceptions to become conscious thought.  Taking regularly scheduled time outs can do wonders for our intuition.  Don’t try to force intuition.  Instead just relax, clear your mind and let it happen.  The more experience on the water that you have, the greater the likelihood that intuitive knowledge exists.  You just have to relax and let it emerge.

The third way to take advantage of intuition is to simply understand it.  This allows for the logic and reason that modern man seems to need while at the same time providing an opportunity for intuitive knowledge to enter consciousness.  Even if my beliefs about intuition are wrong, they still provide a reasonable and logical answer to something that otherwise seems to defy logic and reason.  This fact, in and of itself, makes it easier for me to accept and trust intuition and to then act on the knowledge it provides.  To me, that alone makes it worth the effort.

Intuition is real.  It is pure knowledge untainted by bias and prejudice.  Knowledge is the key to fishing success.  Ignore it at your own risk!      


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