Elite No. 4

We’re out practicing for tournament No. 4 in the 2012 Elite Series season. I’m kind of excited about this one, although I think it might be a little tough. The water’s up. That’s great in the prespawn but not so much so in the postspawn. Rising water makes it harder to find the obvious routes back to deeper water, or at least that’s the way it’s always worked for me.

It’s especially difficult if you’re fishing a lake that you don’t know real well. Rising water makes it hard to see where they were which, in turn, makes it hard to see where they’re going. All is not lost, however. There’s still a topwater bite. The top of the water is still the top of the water. And there are always the bluff walls. They’ll tell you where the water’s been and usually show you a predictable route out.

The problem with that approach is that it’s common knowledge. If everyone knows those things then it doesn’t give anyone much of an advantage. I suspect this one will be won the same way they’re all won. One angler will figure out something that the rest of us don’t. It’ll be a small thing that’ll make a huge difference on Sunday.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s been a crazy year. We really haven’t had any spring. It went from winter — what little of it we had — through a short spawn and right into summer. Of course, it’s the weather. That pretty much sums it up. Every year there’s something unique about it, something that makes the season seem different. But different is what the weather is about. If you think about it, different is the same.

That sounds crazy but it’s the way our planet is made. There’s no point in complaining or spending a lot of time thinking about it. If things were perfect and predictable all the time, anybody could catch them.

None of this seems to be bothering Brent Chapman, though. He’s leading the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. I like most of the guys so I try not to root too hard for any one of them. But Brent really is one of the nicest guys I know. If he wins, he’ll be a credit to our sport.

We came into this business about the same time. I’ve fished with him, and against him, in a ton of tournaments. He’s a fine angler with a fine family. His wife, Bobbi, is as nice as can be and his kids, Mason and Makayla, are polite and well-behaved. That speaks well of Brent and Bobbi. Kids don’t grow up that way by accident.

None of this is going to help me catch fish, though. Any AOY dreams I might have had are gone. Now it’s about putting the rest of the season together so I qualify to go to Oklahoma next February to fish Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

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