When we stopped last week I was in the middle of telling you why the two small bass I caught on the third day of the Oneida event made for one of my best days ever. I’m sure some of you thought I was crazy to say that. I’ve had a bunch of days with five big ones. Why would I say what I did?
I said that because it’s true. Those two little fellows secured my 2013 Bassmaster Classic spot. Without them I’d be sitting around biting my nails with my future in someone else’s hands. That’s not my way of doing business. I like things under my control. If I succeed, it’s because of me. If I fail, it’s because of me. We have enough things we can’t control out there. Why add another?
The lake or river is what it is. The weather is what it is. The water is what it is. The fish bite is what it is. And you never really know what the other guys are doing. About all you can do is put your head down and fish. Crying, wringing your hands or hoping someone else catches them or doesn’t catch them is a waste of valuable fishing time.
We all can remember days when we couldn’t claim a bass with anything less than a stick of dynamite but when we got back to the dock we saw lots of big, heavy stringers being hauled to the scales. We’ve seen the opposite, too. That’s why you have to take what you can get every time you go out and not worry about anyone else.
That’s the lesson from Oneida for all of us. How much weight you have in a tournament is cumulative regardless of whether it’s a one day event or a four day event. Every fish, every time, matters. You can’t ever give up. You can’t get discouraged. You can’t depend on someone else.
That third day was as tough as I can ever remember a day being. I had several fish come unbuttoned for no reason. I had a good hook set — or thought I did, anyway — and I didn’t do anything wrong during the fight. They just got lose and swam off. That’s really frustrating. I’d have had over 15 pounds if I’d landed all my bites.
Given what was happening it would have been easy to give up and just go through the motions. I could have cursed my luck and felt sorry for myself. But you can’t allow that to happen. Every fish you catch counts and every cast you make counts. A lot of anglers forget that the last cast is just as important as the first cast. Either one can get you the winning fish.
So I’m not going to complain about those two little fish. In fact, I’m going to be proud that I caught them. They paved a guaranteed road to the Classic for me after a mediocre season. I’ll take them and be proud to carry them up to the weigh-in.