No, I’m not talking about tournaments. I’m talking about good, solid tournament fishing days.
On some level, the James River Open was tough. There was a lot of rain, the water was muddy and, at times, the wind was a problem. Nevertheless, I loved it. That’s because I finally got over the hurdle of having one or two good days and then one or two bad days that’s plagued me all season.
That doesn’t mean it was perfect, though. My goal for every tournament I fish is to win. There’s no compromising about that. I didn’t win so there’s no way I can tell you I’m totally satisfied. But I finished high and had a really strong performance. It was the kind of tournament that made you feel good when it was over.
I found good fish and managed to put together several spots and two or three solid patterns in practice. I launched on Thursday morning feeling good about my chances. I figured I had something going regardless of how the details unfolded on Thursday, Friday and, hopefully, on Saturday. That’s pretty much how it went.
On the first day, I weighed 14 pounds, 7 ounces. On the second day, I weighed 14 pounds, 10 ounces. On the final day I managed a better bag that put my total weight at 41 pounds, 4 ounces. That’s the consistency I’ve been talking about in past columns. It’s what you have to do if you expect to be in the hunt from one tournament to the next. Swinging back and forth will kill you over the long run.
Anybody can have one good day, or even a couple of good days. It’s the nature of our sport. You can find the right fish and you can throw the right lure. Everything falls into place for a little while. That’s not the same as doing it every time you go out.
Overall, I have to think my season is getting better. I’m up mentally and feel better about my fishing. I’m really looking forward to getting on the Mississippi River in the morning. (I’m writing this on Sunday.) That’s important.
You hear it all the time — at our level this is a mental game. Well, it’s true. You have to have confidence and be comfortable in your own skin to be competitive. Everybody in the Elite Series has mechanical skills. It’s the head game that makes the difference in the end. I think I’m doing better in that regard.
Nothing breeds success like success. The James River was good for me despite the fact that I didn’t win and I didn’t secure a guaranteed spot in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic. I hope I can say the same thing about the Mississippi River next Monday, or maybe say something even better.
Before I go I want to wish all the guys out there who are fathers a Happy Father’s Day. It’s an awesome responsibility to be a dad, but it’s also one heck of a lot of fun. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.