The holidays are behind us and hunting season is over. As good as all that was for me, I'm ready to focus on fishing — more specifically, next week's Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans.
Believe me, I'm ready to get back to fishing open water and defending my title. I feel sorry for the first fish that bites my bait during practice Friday on the Delta. He's going to get an unexpected surprise when I set the hook.
Our three days of Classic practice will be interesting and critical. Some people questioned my decision to not practice there in December before the cut off.
I've been there and won there before. The way I look at it, by not going there before the cutoff, I have no preconceived notions. I haven't done any research to learn the good areas vs. bad areas. I don't want to know any of that; I only want to know what I find in these next three days.
The problem with fishing there in December is conditions have likely changed. We're looking at a warming trend, and that could change everything. You might rule out an area based upon what you saw in December and that area could be good now.
What I find this week will be in play. That's why these three days of practice are so important.
However, of the three Classics I've won, I never caught many fish in practice, nor did I have a good feeling ahead of time.
But this tournament will be different.
I will spend my time looking for multiple areas that have all the right ingredients to win. And I believe I will find them.
I may not know where I'll start or how I'm going to be fishing until the first day of competition. That's the thing about the Delta compared to other fisheries that are more manageable. Because the area is so vast, you can't run from one end of the fishery to the other during competition.
Time won't allow it.
I believe the guy who wins this tournament will know he's going to win before the first cast is made. He will know his area and know what it can produce. Location is more important in this tournament than most others we fish.
Now, there may be 10 guys in the field who feel like they are on the winning fish, but fishing pressure and bad weather could kill it for the other nine before it's all over. Chances are those winning fish won't be close and he's going to have to make a run, which adds to his dilemma.
But the guy who wins will know what he's got before competition begins.
At the Delta, you don't need to have 10,000 fish in one area. You only need 15 good ones to win.
I plan to find those fish. I have confidence in my style and feel comfortable fishing that kind of water. It's going to be fun.
Remember, it's all about the attitude.