I just finished Media Day and have been spending most of the afternoon making last minute adjustments to my tackle. After I'm finished here I'll go up to my room and begin to get ready mentally for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic.
Here's how I do that: I turn off everything in the room — no TV, no radio, no phone, no Internet. It's dead quiet so that I can think and visualize without any interference from any source whatsoever. I want to be alone with my thoughts.
I usually lie on the bed with my eyes closed visualizing what I think will — or could — or might — happen on the water. If A happens, what will I do? B or C? What if such-and-such a scenario plays out? How will I handle it? Will I stay put and switch baits, or will I make a run to another spot and see if it produces better? I run dozens of these possibilities through my mind.
All that helps me when I get on the water. It gives me a feeling of confidence. I know that I'm as prepared mentally as I am physically and as I am tackle-wise. It's a head thing that works for me. I don't hesitate during competition because I know what I'll do under almost any set of circumstances.
Another reason I love the Classic is because it frees me to fish the way I want to fish. In an Elite Series tournament I have to catch fish. It's a matter of survival. You have to earn points in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race to make the Classic and keep your career moving forward. That's the facts of life as a professional bass angler — catch fish or die.
If you're out there without a fish you start hearing that little consistency bird chirping on your shoulder. I hate that bird. She's constantly telling you to catch a bass, even if it's a little one. She's pointing out to you that you need the points; that your sponsors want the publicity; that you don't want to walk across the stage with an empty bag. I hate that bird.
Not so in a Bassmaster Classic. There's only one place here — first. You're either the champion or you're the guy who got beat. (I think it was one of the NASCAR drivers who said that second place was nothing more than first loser.) That's the way I like to fish. I want the little consistency bird to be eaten by the big, bad hawk that screams at you to go for the win. I want to hear that bird screaming — win, win, win. I love that bird.
In a strange way, the hawk takes all the pressure off you. You're free to go fishing for the giants and to let the chips fall where they may. That's the way I like it. It's win or lose tomorrow. I'm willing to suffer killer disappointment for the chance at another Classic win. That's my kind of fishing.
I love it!