West Point was pretty much a disaster for me. I'm now in 53rd in place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That's well outside of the cut for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic and far from where I want to be.
This week, we're at Lake Murray in South Carolina, and I'm under the gun. I either need to win one of the remaining three Elite events or have three amazing finishes.
West Point and my disappointing finish are behind me. I've got to stay focused if I'm going to have a chance to make the Classic.
With the goals of a win or a very strong finish in mind at Murray, I practiced by looking for something isolated and a little offbeat — the kind of thing you need to win. Unfortunately, I was never really able to get that going, so I went with what I know and uncovered a couple of patterns.
For Day One on Murray, I'll be fishing those patterns, but they're not really the kind that will hold up for an entire event. I may be able to get by for one day, but with the caliber of anglers in the Elite Series and the quality of fish available here, I know there are going to be some 20-pound bags brought to the scales.
I'm not seeing that kind of quality with my patterns. I think if I have a really good day, I could catch 16-18 pounds. But — you know — it's Murray, and it's a fresh day. You have to fish with an open mind, stay focused and be willing to make some changes.
We've got some weather changes moving in and out, and the fish are definitely reacting to that. If I make the right changes and shut down on the right water, I can bust one of those big bags.
I saw a huge school of big ones in practice, and I think I could have caught some of those fish if it had been a competition day. If I run into them again, I'll be ready. Maybe it will even develop into another pattern that I can work.
As I said at the top, I'm in a tough position, but you can only beat yourself up so much. Then you have to go fishing.
It is what it is. I have to keep doing what I know how to do, stay positive, stay focused and listen to the fish.