I’m on vacation this week with my family at the shore, but come next week it’ll be time to get serious. The Ramada Championship on Oneida Lake will be about three weeks away, and is it ever going to be important that I do well. As things stand today, I’m holding down slot number 31 in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year points race. That’s too close for comfort as far as I’m concerned.
But that’s what competitive sports is all about. There are times when everything is on the line. It’s what we live for, or at least it’s what we should live for. If you’re afraid to go out and perform under pressure, you need to find another way to make a living. I can’t say I’m happy with where I’m at but I can say that I relish the challenge.
I can’t imagine not making the Bassmaster Classic. It’s a goal I set for myself every year, and one I expect to make. The pain of missing one would be unimaginable, especially out in Oklahoma. I’m hoping I don’t feel that pain, however. I say that with last year’s Oneida Open in the back of my mind.
I finished 6thafter three days of pretty tough fishing. That’s not a win but it’s not a disaster, either. I’m thinking that this year I can make a respectable finish up there. Of course, last year, I was throwing a frog and getting frog lessons from Ish Monroe. There’s no doubt he’s one of the best frog anglers of all time.
But this year may very well be different. Last year’s Open was about a month later than this year’s Elite event. That’s a long time to a fish. The topwater bite was strong back then but that doesn’t mean it’ll be strong this year. The reason I say that is, in part, because of the calendar. Mostly, though, it’s because of the weather.
This year’s weather has been crazy. First, we had an early spring just about everywhere. That started them moving early. Then we had a fair amount of rain which forced water levels a little higher than normal. Add to that one of the worst droughts in our history — and now the heat — and you can see why I say crazy. Honestly, I can’t say I can remember a year like this one.
If I was a fish I’d be confused. I wouldn’t know how long to stay in my summer lair and I sure as heck wouldn’t know when it was time to start moving shallow for the fall feed. I think I’d be out there swimming around in circles looking for answers.
When the fish get confused, anglers get confused. That’s not good when you absolutely have to catch them. No matter what we have to deal with up there, though, I think I can put a solid game plan together. I know the lake, it’s been fairly good to me in the past and I certainly have the motivation. It’s important to be smiling when it’s over.