One of the principles that is very important to me is this: Start strong, finish strong. That’s the mindset I’m carrying into the final regular season event of the Bassmaster Elite Series on Cayuga Lake.
You have to stay focused; there’s a lot of tension in this last tournament. There are guys who are competing for Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, there are guys who are competing for a Bassmaster Classic spot, and then there are guys who are competing to go to the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship. There’s a lot of tension in the air but you just have to stay focused like you do the first tournament of the year.
An Elite Series season is a lot like an individual tournament. In a tournament day, the first hour is just as important as the last hour. That’s how the Elite Series tournaments are – the very last one is just as important as the first one.
Going into this final event, I’m carrying a certain level of confidence and momentum from my Elite Series win on Lake Dardanelle. But, like I’ve said before, that win doesn’t guarantee me anything but my Classic entry, so I’ll be fishing hard just like all my competitors.
If I have a great event at Cayuga, I’ll go into the final event with a slim chance to contend for the Angler of the Year award. For me, this is a big tournament but it also frees me up to fish just like I would if I needed to win the event because that’s what I need to move up a few places.
Even though I’ve only been there once, Cayuga is kinda special to me because the last time I was there was the year I qualified to fish for the Elites by qualifying through the Opens. I didn’t do real hot, but I did okay.
Still, I’m looking forward to fishing this lake for a couple of reasons. First is the pleasant, late summer conditions. It’s actually starting to feel like fall up here, so for me, that makes it a lot more fun fishing. You don’t have to worry about fishing in 100-degree heat.
I also like Cayuga because you can catch smallmouth or largemouth and you can catch them shallow or deep. You’re going to have guys doing lots of different things. The lake’s big, so you’re going to have guys fishing in a lot of different areas.
I’m expecting to see some pretty good fishing at this event. With the weather starting to cool down, some of the fish are starting to move shallow. There’s going to be fish in all depths, but you’re going to have to figure out where the tournament winning fish are.
I’m going to stay open-minded. I’ll probably fish a little shallow and a little deep the first day and then just kind of roll with it. Whatever my gut says to do, I’ll finish that up with the second and third days.
One thing I like about Cayuga is that it has lot of grass. That makes the lake fish a lot bigger than it actually is. You have grass on the bank all the way out to 20 feet deep. That just gives you more options.
One of the things as a tournament fisherman that you don’t want to do is fish around a bunch of other fishermen. With that much grass, the length of the lake and the number of boat docks and things like that, it’s going to give us a lot of targets for us to fish this week.
I think a variety of baits are going to be productive here and if we have good weather, I think a One Knocker Spook will work. What I like about throwing topwaters is that you can catch largemouth and smallmouth on them and the bait tends to entice the bigger fish.
I’ll also probably fish a Bomber BD7 crankbait along the outside of the grass. With any baits, I’ll definitely be looking for big bags. I think to win, a guy’s going to have to have 20 pounds a day.
Another good thing about the Cayuga event is that this is the first time the Elites have been here so I think we’re going to have a lot of excitement like we did at the Delaware River. We had a great crowd at the Delaware and a lot of fans that were excited to see us, and I think we’ll see the same at Cayuga.
Hopefully, these great fans will be able to see me finish strong.