Generally, I like to give you a tip or video that can help you become a better angler. However, since we're at the halfway point in the season, I figured I'd break down my year so far and give you some insight to what's gone right and what's gone wrong.
To say I'm disappointed in my season so far is an understatement. However, as mediocre as it might have been, I just missed having a shot at winning two events. Let's look at it, event by event.
This is definitely the most disappointing event of the season, maybe of my career for that matter. What makes it so bad is that I love sight fishing and I'm good at it. Growing up fishing the deep clear water lakes of Southern California, I sight fished a lot. I pride myself on the technique and, for whatever reason, I just didn't make it happen at the St. John's River.
Okeechobee is one of those lakes where if you figure them out, you can catch a lot of quality fish and have huge bag, like Ish and a few others did. On the other hand, if you don't figure them out, you'll catch a bunch of rats and just never have a real shot at a big bite. I guess what I am saying is that it's feast or famine at the Big O. Well it was famine for me. This isn't as disappointing as the St. John's event because I know that's how it is there, and I just never figured the big fish out. With only three days of pre-fish and no local information, Okeechobee is a big place to break down. What's disappointing is that for two straight events I ended up south of the cut line in the standings.
This is the one where most people don't know how close I was to having a good shot at winning the event, until now. I had two areas that I really liked for my starting spot on Day One. The first was a deep-water spot and the second was a point a little further north. On the first spot, I knew there were some good largemouth, but I only got two bites there before I left it alone in practice. So I wasn't sure it was good enough for four days of fishing. The second was loaded with a huge school of smallmouth bass. I toiled over the decision the night before the event and ultimately decided to fish the smallmouth spot first.
On the first day, I started with the smallmouth and they had moved. I picked up a couple of fish off the spot, but nothing great. When I arrived at the second spot, Brandon Palaniuk saw me coming and jumped on his motor and idled right onto the spot. He was protecting it. I knew there were fish there, but I left anyway after not really being able to fish it.
On the second day I went back to the largemouth spot and Brandon asked me not to fish it because that's where he was catching his fish. Even though it hurt, I left it as a courtesy to the leader. Brandon went on to win the event. I want to congratulate him on his win, but I was so close. It just goes to show you how one wrong decision could be all it takes to go from first to missing the cut.
For the first time, I actually did some pre-practice before the cut-off. Wow, what a difference that makes. I started off leading the event and had a solid finish in third place. I'm happy with the way I fished. I wasn't able to get back onto my spot on Day Three of the event, so I slid a bit. I had a chance to win, but it didn't work out. Overall, I'm happy with a top three finish.
So here we are at the halfway point in the season, and I'm sitting in 56th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. AOY is out of the question at this point, but I feel I have a realistic shot at making the Bassmaster Classic for the 14th time. That's always the number one goal for the year. I'm excited about the final four events of the season and think I can give myself a shot at winning one or two and making the Classic.