When it comes to great fishermen, confidence is the major factor

He likes catching fish. Better yet he relishes his ability to find finicky fish.

And then the easy part comes next when he directs his guide parties where to place a lure in the water proving he's figured out the game of peek-a-boo with any fish species.

I've published dozens of columns about the expertise of angling legend Spence Petros.

I've fished with him in Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Louisiana, and hot spots in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I'd be lying if I wrote these were just average trips with the usual schtick that goes on with some anglers on various trips.

But here's the real stuff as it pertains to this guy I've known for more than 35 years.

He's conducted his famous fishing classes for more than three decades. He helped guide Fishing Facts magazine to a long and successful run. And he's one of a select few muskie hunters who is just as comfortable finding and catching big bluegills and crappies.

Even though I chose to be in the background when we were surrounded by his loyal followers at his classes and sports show seminars, I always admired how he meticulously offered down-to-earth angling know-how to those information-starved fishermen.

And because I often prejudge a lot of people, I used to label Petros as a guy who constantly needs his ego boosted.

On a recent bass excursion to Lake Geneva I tossed my Spence Petros ego judgment up for conversation with outdoor chef Mike Ventresca, otherwise known as “Green Acres Mike.” He chose to remain silent while I went on to “indict” Petros for being too good an angler in today's technical world.

So we continued catching largemouth bass. We tried our best to locate the lake's famous schools of smallmouth bass to no avail. I understood how frustrated Petros was because he always catches largemouth with numbers reaching more than 80 fish or something close to that.

I've spoken with several dozen of Petros's guide customers and each one told me they've caught more bass in one outing than they have taken in a lifetime. I asked them if they thought the Petros ego had anything to do with how the day went for them? All of them discounted that concept and said their trip was one of the best and exciting adventures in their fishing lives.

And then in the boat on our day on Lake Geneva it was when Spence did more than defend himself. He looked at me and said it's not a matter of a big ego that drives him, but rather it's a super-high level of confidence and years of experience he brings to the forefront each time he launches his boat.

• Catch Mike Jackson Outdoors 8 to 9 a.m. Sundays on WCGO AM-1590 or stream live at Reach him at

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