Fishing in the Bassmaster Elite Series, you have to catch them good every single day to finish in the top. These guys are beyond good, and you cannot stumble. You can catch up sometimes but, for the most part, you have to come out of the gates catching them good.
Each of the first three Elite Series tournaments, I have been playing catch up after Day One. Tournament bass fishing is all about decisions, and I have made poor decisions each one of my first days. I was still figuring the fish out and was a little slow to change tactics; I took some big gambles that didn’t pay off. I’m thankful that I figured out what went wrong on the first day and had a better showing each one of the Day Twos.
At St. Johns River, I got into a funk on the first day where I was essentially chasing ghosts; I tried to sight fish in a crowd, and all of my better fish had already been caught. I scratched that area on Day Two and just ran new water and found new spawners in an area that had less fishing pressure.
At Okeechobee, I had a horrible practice and was still trying to figure them out on Day One. I started the day out by fishing entirely too slow in bad areas. Thankfully, I found one decent area where I caught a 6-pounder. I was able to go back in there on the second day and catch two in the 6-pound range in the first hour. Those two big fish gave me the confidence to keep finding new fish as the day went on.
This past tournament at Bull Shoals, it was a case where I had two patterns going in two totally different areas of the lake. I had a creek 10 miles from launch where I could catch them good shallow cranking and a creek 45 miles from launch where I could catch them flipping bushes. I thought the flipping bite would be the way to catch better quality bass, but the water dropped and that bite was pretty much non-existent on the first day. I wasted half of the day running way up the river and flipping in bushes that were too shallow. On Day Two, I decided to dedicate the day to cranking and had much better success.
Bass fishing is a learning experience, and if I can learn something each day, then I think of that day as a success no matter what place I am sitting. Hopefully, at this next tournament on Douglas Lake, I will have a better start. I have fished Douglas for 10 years, and I know where they live this time of year. It’s just a matter of making the right decisions at the right time. It will be a great tournament, and I bet it will exceed most people’s expectations.
Remember to chase your dreams!