This is a sport that’ll drive you crazy. The smallest things will make all the difference in the world. Smith Lake proved that. It was very disappointing but at the same time it gives me great hope.
I didn’t know a thing about Smith Lake. Yet, within three hours I had located the right creek and had the winning fish in my sights. My co-angler’s performance proves that. They both caught fish and gave a darn good accounting of themselves. But I didn’t do much of anything. Even worse, I can’t tell you why.
That’s the reason I say this sport will drive you crazy. I mean, it’s one thing not to locate the fish or figure out how to make them bite. It’s another to find them, develop a pattern and then not be able to catch them when it counts.
I’m not complaining, though. This is a great life, one I haven’t written enough about lately. Mother Nature and good fortune can be tough on a man. I’ve certainly proved that in the last few years — really, since the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Nevertheless, I remain positive and continue to believe that next year will be my best ever.
I was in my trophy room before dawn the other day with only one light burning. It cast a barely visible glow across all my mementos. I couldn’t help but spend some time in front of each and every one of them reliving the moment. It seems like I can remember every fish, every trip to the scales and every congratulations from every fellow angler.
Those are the moments that keep a guy like me going when things get tough. I can spend time thinking about my success. It’s a great positive. But, here’s something what I want to make sure everyone understands about me — I love this sport and the life I live. And I love it in the toughest of times. It’s about more than catching bass, cashing checks and having your picture taken with a big trophy.
It’s not that those things aren’t important. They most certainly are. I’ve had a few of them and I’ll tell you that competitive success on the water is special. But there’s something special about chasing bass, too. They’re coldblooded creatures with a brain no bigger than a pea. But, on some level, they’re smarter than we are, or at least they manage to outsmart us on a regular basis.
You’ll notice I’m not saying much about competing against the other guys. That’s because I don’t see it that way. The bass are my real adversaries. If I can figure out how to trick them into biting my lure, the human aspect of this sport will take care of itself.
I guess what I’m trying to say this week is that sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves as well as with each other. It’s the chase that makes it all worthwhile, as far as I’m concerned. That’s the part I love the most. In some ways, that makes me one of the luckiest men on this planet.