Tournament bass fishing is one of the most humbling things I do. A perfect example of this is my last two tournaments. I finished 7th and almost broke the 100 lb. mark during the Falcon Lake Slam. The next week, I finished 77th in the BASS Open on Douglas Lake. The Douglas Lake Elite was my best finish last year, and I thought this could be one of my best tournaments this year. I was wrong.
After having back-to-back top 10’s in the first two Elite events, I thought the momentum would help me at Douglas. A few of my practice days were decent and a few were really tough. I still wasn't worried going into the first day of the tournament, because I was confident that I knew enough about Douglas to catch a decent limit.
That first day was probably one of the toughest tournament days (physically and mentally) I have ever experienced. It was 40 degrees and rained all day long. I had two rain-suits on and still got soaked. Freezing and frustrated that the fish weren't biting for me, I pretty much checked out mentally at noon. I was a late boat number due in at 5:15, and for about the last 5 hours, I was just going through the motions of fishing, not thinking I was going to catch anything. I only managed to catch one tiny keeper. There were several times throughout the day, where I was thought of what I was going to tell Chris Bowes on the weigh-in stage about bringing in one little keeper. On most tournament days, I think I am going to catch a fish on every cast, and I stay focused until the very end. This day couldn't have been further from that.
Days like that are days that I would like to forget, but I purposely remember every little detail. I use the bad days as a learning experience and motivation for future tournaments. They make me work harder, prepare better, and get in the right mindset. That is what’s cool about tournament bass fishing. It doesn't matter how good you are, you will always get humbled. Even the best anglers, guys like Kevin VanDam and Edwin Evers, have those humbling days. I think this is one of the reasons that most professional anglers work so hard. With those nightmarish days in the back of our minds, we practice from daylight till dark knowing that we never have this sport all figured out. This week I'm on Bull Shoals and excited to get another Elite Series tournament going!
Dare to fail.