I thought this might be a good time to take a look back at how things went this year. I know I learned a lot that’ll help me in the future, and maybe some of it will help you. I hope so, anyway.
If I remember correctly, I’ve had a Top 12 finish every year in the Elite Series. This year going into the final event I didn’t have one. To be honest I think a part of that was that I was trying to make sure I earned a spot in next year’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. No one wants to miss a Classic on their home lake. My drive to make sure that didn’t happen affected my fishing.
I started every event just like I always do. I fished to win. But, when that didn’t look like it was going to happen, I think I started playing it too safe, sometimes on the second day and almost always on the third day. In plain English I was too careful. That strategy gave me a few decent finishes but it also put me out of Classic contention in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.
As I look back on things, the first lesson I learned is that a prevent defense doesn’t work in the Bassmaster Elite Series. The anglers are too good and there are too many guys out there swinging for the fences. Someone will always get it done. Fish too conservative and you guarantee yourself a disappointing finish.
When we went to Detroit, I knew things had to change. There was no messing around and fishing conservative didn’t mean a thing. I had nothing to protect.
I launched up there knowing that if I didn’t put the pedal to the metal I was in big trouble. To be fair, I still had the Wildcard on Okeechobee in my arsenal. I fish well there so it wasn’t like I was in a panic. Still, no matter the circumstances, a guy doesn’t want to go down to the wire if you can help it.
Like I’ve said before, the pressure in Detroit was liberating. I could go anywhere, make a long run or do anything else I needed to do to find the winning fish. That helped me focus my attention on accomplishing the task at hand. If things went bad, so be it. I was out anyway.
It worked out. I found good fish and managed to win the event. When everything was over, I had my spot next February on Guntersville.
And that brings us to the second lesson I learned. Sometimes you have to let all the stops out and just go for it. Success isn’t guaranteed if you go for broke like that, but failure is guaranteed if you don’t try.
Next week we’re going to talk about the largemouth lessons I learned growing up in Florida fishing with my dad and grandfather and how those lessons have helped me catch smallmouth bass on the Great Lakes.