I’m doing something this afternoon (Monday) you won’t see me doing very often. I’m fishing way offshore, and I do mean way offshore.
There’s a reason for that. I need to weigh around 20 pounds a day to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. If I bring much less than that to the scales, I’m finished.
Here’s the deal: We’re in smallmouth country. If you want to be competitive on a body of water like Lake St. Clair or the Detroit River, you have to go for it. Holding back or trying to fish conservative and careful won’t get it done. This is the time when you have to show everyone what this sport is all about, and what you’re all about.
Am I out of my comfort zone? The answer to that is obvious. Of course I am. Does that matter? No, it doesn’t matter one bit. No one cares. I’m a professional angler who has a very narrow margin of error available to me as of today. So what?
Under normal circumstances, and in normal smallmouth waters, you’d think that 20 pounds of fish a day for four consecutive days would be a pipedream. After all, that’s 20 fish with an average weight of 4 pounds each. That’s serious.
The thing is, though, that this is Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. They’re arguably the finest smallmouth fisheries on the planet. Weight like that is well within reach. In fact, 80 pounds won’t win this thing, or at least I don’t think so. It’ll take that much just to be competitive.
With that thought in mind I had an interesting question come up today. A writer asked me what sort of plan I had for the wind. He knew I was offshore. Bad weather could be a problem. The answer to his question was no, I do not have a backup plan.
There are two reasons for that. First, I have to catch a lot of weight. A backup plan to get me through the tournament is useless. If I don’t have a strong performance, it doesn’t much matter where I finish. Second, I have the equipment to handle whatever Mother Nature throws my way.
I fish out of a Legend bass boat powered by a Mercury outboard. That’s as good as it gets. That combination will get me through darn near anything. The boat will hold up to the water and the waves. The motor is reliable and has the power to push me through the tough stuff.
And, if it gets so bad that even they can’t handle things, the tournament day will almost certainly be canceled. B.A.S.S. is pretty good about that sort of thing, balancing the need to fish with the need for safety.
Success is never guaranteed in this sport. There are too many variables that we can’t control. I can guarantee, however, that if I go down it won’t be lookin’. No sir! I’ll be swinging all the way.