Validation

Today was a little different. I caught 18 pounds, 9 ounces. It wasn't nearly enough to win. VanDam caught 'em all three days, but it was enough to validate my strategy and my choice of spots. That's something, I suppose.

It's hard to put a good face on an 11th place finish. I wanted to do much better, about 10 places better, but sometimes things don't break your way. I guess the thing that really hurts is that I thought I had the winning fish marked, and it turns out I did. They just didn't bite until today. That's the Iaconelli definition of killer disappointment.

When I got to my spot this morning I caught a 4-pounder real quick. I knew when he hit that something was different. Right after that I fished around a little bit and then went back and threw into the same exact spot. I caught a 5-pounder.

When that happened, I knew they were on the beds. I'd caught the male first and then the female. After that I changed my approach completely. I knew all this warm weather had pushed them to the beds. The water was too stained to see the beds or the fish. I had to visualize where I thought they would spawn and then fish those areas.

I moved around the grass with my eyes half closed and tried to think like a bass. (Don't laugh. It works — sometimes.) When I found a spot that looked right I'd pitch into it. Because of the water color I couldn't tease them but I was able to boat about 25 keepers today fishing blind.

The result shows. If I had been able to catch them that way the first two days, the story would be a lot different. No matter, it hurts. And the part that hurts the most is that I know in my heart those quality fish were there all the time. A writer asked me if I thought they moved into my area overnight. The answer is no, absolutely. They did not.

They were there all the time. I just didn't fish them right. I can't tell you what I was doing wrong but it was something. To be fair, time helped me a little today. We had long fog delays Friday and Saturday. They only held us 30 minutes this morning. That gave me a lot more time to fish and figure things out. It made a big difference.

I'll think about it off and on over the next few days and write some more about it if I come up with anything I think I should have done differently the first two days. But I won't think about it too much. That's a waste of time. I need to worry about future tournaments, not past ones.

Congratulations to Kevin. He caught more weight than the rest of us and deserved to win. He fished one heck of a tournament.

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