FLW Championship winner David Dudley might not have known the James River as well as some seemed to think he did, but one thing's certain: he understood tides and current. And that was one of the big keys to him winning the tournament.
Here's a quick primer on how he looks at tides -- or, rather, current.
"Everybody can talk all this smack about high tide, low tide and all that junk," he said. "But I think the No. 1 key is to understand that whenever you're fishing places that have current, that current puts fish in different positions on cover, current breaks or whatever.
"People get too wrapped up in this tidal hoopla, about what they have to do on high tide or low tide. I think they need to pay more attention to cover- fishing. They need to understand that on high tide, that fish didn't leave that laydown or grass that you always catch him on. He just repositioned himself. You have to understand where they move on a particular piece of cover when there's current.
"That's why I don't get caught up in that tide game: be here on low tide and there on high tide," he noted. "I have a good understanding of where fish position themselves no matter what tide it is."
Take the example of a laydown tree. If you always catch a fish on a particular limb of a laydown on low tide, "that bass doesn't leave that tree," he said. "On high tide he'll be on a different part of that limb or the tree itself, but people try to fish the same place (on high tide) as low tide.
"If it's low tide, there's only a little bit of that tree sticking in the water so anyone can understand it. They know the fish will probably be on that limb right there because hardly any of the tree is in the water. Now cover that whole tree up with water, and that's when the confusion comes."
The way to avoid that confusion is to think in terms of current, Dudley said. "He was sitting at that limb on low tide because it was a current break for him. Now if you flood the whole tree, he's using a different part of that tree for a current break. He's still there. You just need to understand where he's positioned in that tree to get out of the current."
Precise Presentation Important
One you make an educated guess about where the fish is, then you have to make a precise presentation, he said. "You just have to put it right there in front of his face because anytime you have current, fish don't chase bait like they would in a lake. You almost have to feed it right into their mouths.
"With the (tide-related current), baitfish are always coming by the bass. They don't have to move somewhere to eat. So when there's current, it's really critical to get your bait in the right place.
"It takes a lot more effort to put your bait where he is with current on high tide," he noted.
"If somebody wants to just run the tide, you can look on the internet or call a number and find out when it's high tide and when it's low tide," Dudley said. "But it's so much more than that."