2011 Elite Series - Alabama Charge Pickwick Lake - Florence, AL, Apr 6 - 9, 2011

Looking up

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Charlie Hartley

Things are looking up after last week. I was down after Florida. As good as the fishing was — and is — down there, it wasn't real good for me. The Pickwick event boosted my mental attitude and my Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standing.

I knew I was in great shape to make the first cut. I was catching fish and culling regularly, so there was no doubt I'd be fishing on Friday. (Remember, this one started a day early.) But, I also knew I was probably a little short to make the top 12 cut and fish on Saturday. I wasn't surprised when I finished in 14 place, about a half-pound off the top 12 mark.

The fishing's really good on Pickwick. You guys should make a note of that. It's better than ever. That might be because of the grass. It's pretty much everywhere in the lake. That makes a big difference. It offers tons of solid habitat for bass, and for the forage.

We're seeing this all over the country — better fishing opportunities. It's a combination of responsible sportsmen and women as well as top professional management. Let me tell you that guys who reminisce about the good old days don't know what they're talking about. These are the good old days as far as bass fishing is concerned.

Regardless of the quality of the fishing, though, a good finish makes your whole world look better. The fishing part is obvious. I have a shot at qualifying for the Classic if I can have a few more good tournaments.

What might not be so obvious, however, is how something like that makes the rest of your world look different. I feel better about my business — less stressed and more positive. I also feel better just driving down the road on my way to Toledo Bend for the next one. The trees and the grass are greener, the flowers are brighter and the air's fresher. The world feels like a better place.

That sounds crazy, but it really is true. When something's as important to a person as fishing is to me, a positive event changes your whole perspective on life.

I suppose that's a good reason to keep our expectations under control. If we don't make them ridiculously high they aren't as likely to be dashed against the rocks at the end of the day. Set high goals; just don't get stupid about it.

So much for that. Let's look to the future. After Florida I was in 70th place in the standings. After Pickwick I'm in 50th place. That's a big move, one that puts me within striking distance of making the Classic.

Best of all, it's still fairly early in the season. There's room to move. Another couple of strong finishes and I'll be fishing the Red River next February. That's not a stupid goal.

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