I'm finalizing my preparations for the Bassmaster Classic this week. I have my tackle about ready to go, and by the time next week's blog rolls around I'll be headed to Louisiana to practice for the biggest event of the year.
Looking ahead to the Red River gets me excited. I get excited for every event, but the Classic is special. I've had plenty of near misses, and all I can do is keep my head down and stay focused on this event. I can’t worry about the past or anything other than what is going on with each cast while I'm on the water. And that leads me to this week’s topic: stay focused on the now, and don’t worry about the past or the future.
Staying focused on the now is especially tough in the big events. We all want to do well. My biggest event every year is the Bassmaster Classic. Your biggest event might be your club championship or a grudge match with some of your fishing buddies. Regardless of where you fish or what the stakes may be, our big events are enough to get our minds racing in a hundred different directions.
It's hard to avoid looking too far ahead of ourselves — to look to the prize at the end — but in order to get the result you want, your best bet is to focus on what is going on right now. What I mean is you need to focus on the cast you are making. Stop worrying about what is or isn’t in your livewell. Don’t worry about what your competitors are doing or what happened last year, last week or even yesterday. You can’t change what happened, and the only way you're going to change what will happen is to do your best right now.
How many times have you made a cast and during the retrieve you started looking around for where you're going to make the next cast? Maybe you're thinking about where else you could be where the fishing might be better.
Focusing on your next spot or your next lure choice or what you should have done an hour ago is not going to help you catch that fish that's right in front of you.
Unfortunately, like the saying goes, it's easier said than done. Between dock talk, other competitors nearby that might be catching them better than you or a million other things, it's really easy to lose focus. It happens to all of us.
The best way to start focusing on the now is to prepare before you get on the water, build a solid game plan and then execute it to the best of your ability. As professional anglers we have the luxury of pre-fishing multiple days for an event, and we should be able to formulate a good game plan. You might not have that luxury, which makes it more difficult to stay focused on the plan. However, use whatever resources you have to formulate the plan, and go with it whole-heartedly.
Of course, game plans change — sometimes several times during a day — and that’s part of being a good angler. However, game plans should be changed mostly on the basis of what you are learning "now." Are you getting short struck? Are you seeing small baitfish? Is the water color or water temperature different than you expected? One that I really pay attention to is the wind; did it change directions? These are all things you figure out by being in the now, not in the past and not at the weigh in station. Use these things to help alter your game plan.
Ultimately, I have two reasons for telling you this. The first is that I think it will help you. If this helps you win your club championship or a big tournament or to catch your biggest bass, I'll truly be happy for you. Let me know about it in the comments section of this column or tell me about it if we run into each other down the road.
The second reason I have for putting all this down is that I want to reinforce it in myself for the 2012 Classic and Elite season. Like I said, this is all easier said than done, and a little reinforcement never hurt anybody.
So let's remember to make each cast the best cast of the day, to learn from what's going on right now and to use that information to change what happens in the end. Hopefully, it will help us both win our next big event.