This month I was down in Venice, La., filming a redfish show for Bill Dance Saltwater on The Outdoor Channel. We were wrapping things up, having caught some huge reds for a show that will air April 11, and I was talking to Capt. Mike Frenette at Venice Marina. That's when I noticed several B.A.S.S. pros were arriving to pre-fish for the Bassmaster Classic that will be headquartered in New Orleans Feb. 18-20.
Among those I saw scoping out the area during my time there were my friends Shaw Grigsby, Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli. Of course, the comments from several folks upon seeing the pros included, "Why are they practicing for a tournament that won't happen until mid-February?" "They're wasting their time!" and even, "Are they crazy? They're a long way from New Orleans!"
I couldn't help but chuckle at these comments. But then, I have a little more insider info than others. I've been there — I've competed at the level of fishing that is justifiably labeled our sport's Super Bowl, World Series and Masters. Yes, it's the top of the heap, and the folks that chase bass at that level are different critters, if not competitors.
As I watched the anglers, I thought of what they were going through. I visualized what they were doing — preparing for the big one. My memory was a mixture of envy and "Whew! I'm glad it's not me."
The Boy Scouts' motto explains why they were there: Be prepared. And, when it comes to success of any kind, that's a pretty strong motto.
Sure, things are going to change from now until the time of the Classic. But an edge is an edge, and bass pros want their edge finely sharpened. They want to familiarize themselves with the area and more, even though conditions will undoubtedly be different.
Again, I visualized the things they had to prepare for — from the changes that would develop over the weeks to fishing an area notorious for sudden change thanks to tides, winds, etc. Then there are other overlooked adjustments, such as the trip itself, the time away from home and the stress of going all out on the world championship stage. There are many things for which to be prepared. So, you see, being there months in advance really is needed if one hopes to increase his odds of winning the title.
Yep, I watched 'em — today's top-flight competitors. I watched them do what they have to do to win. And, yes, I'm glad those challenges are in my bass boat's wake. But I also have to admit it was fun to reel in a memory or two about that kind of competitive spirit, recall what they are aiming for, and to know (better than most) why they do what they do.
I sure wish them lots of luck!
For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out www.billdanceoutdoors.com.