March 13, 2011
Harris Chain, Day Four
The Harris Chain tournament is now over for me. On Saturday, I came to the scales with three bass weighing just four pounds and finished 50th.
Instead of moving up several places as I had hoped, I actually fell to the bottom of the group of anglers making the first cut.
Since I qualified to fish Saturday, I had the opportunity to improve my position, but I couldn't get anything going. I went sight fishing, but only saw a bunch of bucks that were guarding fry.
I caught the three fish I brought to the scales in one 30-minute stretch and probably could have caught two more, but they wouldn't have made any real difference.
Ultimately, my performance here goes to show how much I have to learn about bass and bass fishing. There's still a long way to go.
In hindsight, it's obvious that I just didn't find the right fish. I like to take some time to analyze my performance after each tournament; I usually do that on the drive home after the event.
Since we have another Elite event starting Thursday on the St. Johns River, I won't have time to do that.
I've got to switch gears and get ready for that one right away, but I still want and need to take a few minutes to think about what happened here on the Harris Chain.
As I said, I didn't find the right fish here. To make matters worse, I really had nothing to fall back on when my primary game plan didn't work out.
Most of your successes and failures as a tournament angler can be traced back to practice. If you fell short of where you wanted to be, you were either using the wrong technique, fishing the wrong areas, didn't find the right fish in those areas or all of the above.
For me, at the Harris Chain, it was a little bit of everything that fell short.
This kind of self-analysis is critical to a tournament angler — win or lose. You have to be able to repeat the stuff that worked and avoid the things that didn't if you're going to be consistently successful.
At the same time, you have to know when to move on and put things behind you. In the Elite Series, there are some built-in boundaries that help with that.
After a tournament, whether I do well or not, I'll use the drive time getting home to Texas or to our next tournament stop as my time for that analysis. When I reach home or the next stop, I'm done — excited about the next event and ready to move on.
Since we don't have a long drive between this tournament and the next, I have a different schedule this week.
Sunday morning I'm going to sleep in. When I wake up, I'll head to Palatka, Fla., and the St. Johns River. I'll spend some time looking at maps of the river and preparing my tackle.
I will have moved past the Harris Chain tournament and be completely focused on the St. Johns.
You have to do that. You can't look back or get negative. To be successful, I know I have to focus on the positive.
Maybe I'm lucky because even when I was young and just getting started with tournament bass fishing, I could zone out the distractions and focus on the fishing and competition.
You can do it, too, though. You just need to concentrate on your true goal and not lose sight of it.
I am not fishing for a check. You shouldn't be, either.
We are fishing to excel, to be the best we can be, to learn and to maximize our opportunities on the water.
If we can do those things, we'll have the other things, too — from big catches to great sponsors to lots of prize money.
We just have to keep our eyes on the right target.
Fish to excel.