My first Elite Series tournament – the 2012 Elite Series St. Johns River Showdown – was a lot of fun. It was a huge learning experience, and finishing 21st was a good start to the season. I learned more about Florida bass but, more importantly, I learned how this Elite Series game is played.
Like the writer said last week in the blog, it was all about sight fishing. I feel good that the plan I had going into the event was a good one and that sight fishing was the dominant way to catch big sacks this past week week. I, however, severely underestimated the competition.
I spent three days looking for spawning fish that others certainly would not find. If I had to push 50 yards back into very tight quarters, I did it. I hoped that others wouldn’t bother to do the same. Wrong. On the first morning of the event, there were boats on all of the decent-sized fish I had located. To compound the issue, the few beds I had managed to discover that were off the beaten path were void of fish, even fish I had seen the afternoon before. It was looking bleak.
I had to regroup after the first couple hours of the event and try my best to settle down. Once I finally had a limit in the boat, I felt better. On Day Two, I was able to find some new fish that moved up to spawn; I increased my weight and moved up the standings. Making the top 50 cut was awesome and took off some of the pressure. I could sense it among the other pros that made the cut, too. Everyone seems to be much more at ease after the cut. A big part of it is earning a check but the biggest part is getting to fish another day instead of spending mental energy thinking about what might have been.
Now, we switch gears to Okeechobee this week where the style of fishing is completely different. This is a heavy tackle, heavy cover style of fishing. This type of rapid change is the most daunting aspect of the Elite Series. Fishing locally, a guy can get on a group of fish or a pattern and ride it out for weeks. We’ve got to leave sight fishing in the rearview mirror. And in a matter of a few days, we have to find new fish and catch them in a completely different manner.
Last week, I was sore from pushing a push pole all week. This week, I hope I am sore from setting the hook.
Remember to chase your dreams!