Last week I mentioned the fact that I have trouble believing in my own decision-making power — to truly believe. Nowhere is that more evident than in my fixation on weighing in five bass every day, and nowhere does it hurt me more. I've got a thing about that five bass business. I know it hurts me, but try as I might I don't seem to be able to change my mindset or to develop a different perspective on the issue.
It's basically impossible for me to go across the stage without a limit of bass. I'm embarrassed to the point where it literally eats me alive. Here's the thing about it. Some of the anglers I most admire — Denny Brauer is the one that immediately comes to mind — are willing to go for broke and come in with an empty sack, or at least less than a limit. They know that they can't win very often with five keepers.
As Denny says, you can't be a hero unless you're willing to zero. He's got it right. I know that as well as he does. It's common sense at this level of competition. Yet, when I'm out on the water and presented with that choice, I always go for the limit. Honestly, I can't ever remember doing otherwise.
There's this inner sense of doom and gloom when I think about zeroing. My stomach is about the size of a walnut, and my armpits are soaking wet just thinking about it. That doesn't make sense. I've been around long enough to know that if I'm going to win one of these things, I have to take the chance.
It's not about strategy; it's about necessity. You don't beat the top anglers in the world by playing it safe. There's an old saying in boxing that the challenger has to take the title away from the champ. It's not much different in fishing. You have to be aggressive and fish to win. But I don't, and that's the part that hurts the most.
Now that I've bared my soul, it's time to start thinking about doing something about this confidence thing. That's truly my goal for next year. If I'm successful, you'll know because you'll see me cross the stage carrying one or two good-sized bass with my head held high knowing that I went for it all. And maybe, just maybe, you'll see me hoist a trophy or two somewhere along the way. I sure hope so, anyway.