The confidence thing, part 1

OK, I'm going to bare my soul: I suffer from FCS. That's Fragile Confidence Syndrome. It's plagued me throughout my entire adult life and it doesn't seem to be getting better. That was apparent last week. I was fishing a tournament on the Great Lakes when my fish disappeared. For most guys something like that would have been disappointing, or maybe a challenge to be solved. For me it was a mess. I ran helter-skelter about the lake looking for replacements. Finding fish wasn't the problem. There were plenty of them around. Finding the right size ones was a problem, however.

Now I know intellectually what I should do under those circumstances — make one of two choices. You can sit on your old spot and hope for the best, or you can keep moving until you find bigger fish. Either way is a gamble. Success is far from certain no matter what a guy does. But, for me, it isn't that simple. I lack the confidence to make a decision, to truly believe that whatever I do will be the right thing. And without that mental attitude, all is lost. Because, you see, at the Elite Series level this game is all mental.

There isn't an angler on the tour who doesn't know how to fish. We can all cast accurately; we can all flip, pitch and skip; we can all fish topwater; and we all know how to drop shot. The thing that sets us apart is confidence; the ability to believe that what we're doing will put us on winning bass in the long run. Let's go back to last week.

Everyone who fishes seriously knows that smallmouth carry their suitcases with them. They travel at a moment's notice without any reasonable explanation, or at least any reasonable explanation that we humans are able to decipher from our vantage point. And so, the long and the short of it is that there was no reason for my mental attitude. I know what smallmouth are and I know what they do. I should have expected it and been in a position to deal with it.

My being in a tizzy over what to do was silly. There's no doubt about that. The really frustrating thing is that I know all this but can't put it into play on the water. I'm fine as long as things go reasonably well. If they start to slide, or if I think they're starting to slide, it's another chapter out of the same book. I just don't seem to be able to get it back. Honestly, it's very frustrating and I have no clue what to do about it. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a position to win and had this confidence thing jump up and bite me where it hurts. We'll talk some more about this next week.

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