My family had good success fishing in the Carolinas through the late 90’s and early 2000’s. We were very consistent on making the top 10, but breaking into the top 3 on any regular basis was elusive. The thing that I believe changed our tournament fishing was fishing in the northern Gulf and thus getting a lot of experience with big King Mackerel. It’s no different than the best Billfish teams. If you see a hand full of Sailfish or Marlin in a year, then every single bite counts and mistakes are difficult to be learned from. But when you fish in Central America or the Outer Banks or South Florida and you get dozens of shots on a daily basis, then screwing up isn’t something to be mad about, but rather a learning opportunity. And thus King Mackerel fishing in the northern Gulf put us around big fish on a very consistent basis, and we learned what it takes to catch them, and also how to act around them. A guy who sees one 40 pounder a year fishing off my home waters in Southeast North Carolina will act totally different when hooked up to such a fish in a tournament versus a guy who has seen and caught many such fish. I firmly believe that there is something to the concept that the fish can “sense” nerves. It may not necessarily be the fish doing anything different, but you will act different when you are nervous. How many times have you gone out prefishing or messing around and caught huge Kingfish, seemingly without even trying. You couldn’t lose a fish. Then you face the same scenario in competition and everything goes wrong. And so what is the lesson? I believe that in order to master your prey, which in this case is a 40+ pound King Mackerel, you need to encounter many of them and thus become a master of their habits. If your home waters don’t offer such opportunities, make a point to go somewhere that does. Finally, all this boils down to my final and key point. The biggest difference between the most successful fishermen and the moderately successful is the ability to capitalize on opportunity. There’s not a lot of science to getting bit, but when you get that one bite, will you capitalize or will you be telling the same old story that we all tell about the tournament winner getting away!