Another Classic title. It still seems surreal and hasn't soaked in. Don't get me wrong — I went to the Louisiana Delta with intentions of winning. I go to every tournament thinking I can win. But winning against this quality of a field isn't easy.
It gets more difficult every year because the competition continues to get better. But what happened on the Delta is flat-out amazing. Everything had to line up perfectly for me, and that's exactly what happened. I had no intention of making the long run to Venice where many thought the tournament would be won.
I just couldn't take the chance of the fog creating delays and reducing the amount of fishing time we had. My hunch was right. The guys who ran there lost valuable fishing time because of fog delays. Those of us who fished in Cataouatche were only 15-20 minutes from the take-off, so we spent more time casting. Secondly, the weather played right in our hands.
The area we fished was dead during the three-day practice period the week before because the water was so cold. But seeing the warming trend and a full moon coming, my hunch was the fish would pour in there. Again, it was the right move because the weather timed out perfectly. If it had warmed up a day earlier, all those contestants who went in there looking during Wednesday's short practice day might have seen the improvement and fished closer.
As it was, there were about eight of us who recognized what was going on. The day after the Classic ended, I went to the ramp with Bassmaster photographers to shoot photos for upcoming issues. A couple of guys who had been among the spectators that watched us during the event were at the ramp. They told me they had just left Cataouatche and there were 25 guys out there fishing, but the wind was blowing so hard it was white-capping over those stumps and they couldn't hold. If that had happened a day earlier — the day I caught 28 pounds to seal the win — who's to say I would have won?
Another positive was that the competitors who fished there all three days got along, and we all respected each other. That doesn't always happen when you put that many anglers in a good area. And, of course, I got to fish my strengths.
The bass reacted well to my Strike King spinnerbait the first day, and the KVD 1.5 square bill crankbait that produced the last two days. If that weren't enough, I never lost a fish in three days. So, I guess what I'm saying is that all of the conditions lined up perfectly for me and others in Cataouatche to experience outstanding fishing. I always try to control as many variables as I can, but some are simply left to chance.
Last week, all the pieces fell into place and I couldn't have scripted it any better. It's like a dream come true. Remember: It's all about the attitude.