It is what it is.
After a tough Day One where I weighed in just 9 1/2 pounds, I had an even worse Day Two — a very small limit that weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces. I ended up in 69th place.
Ultimately, I've just got to suck it up and deal with it. The last four Elite Series events have been a tremendous downturn for me. The season has been a real challenge.
With two tournaments left, I now have to win one to make it to the 2012 Bassmaster Classic. But whether I win one or not, I want to have two really strong finishes so I can at least end the season on a high note.
The Lake Murray tournament was an interesting one. I really expected to do well here, and I had opportunities to put together a 13- or 14-pound bag on Day Two.
I was running two distinct patterns. The first involved catching bass that were guarding fry around boat docks. Some of these were pretty good fish. The cloud cover we had for much of the first day hurt the pattern, though, and by the second day, these fish were simply gone.
My other pattern is one that a lot of other guys were working, too. It involved running points that had blueback herring on them. I found one really good school working this pattern, but the fish were extremely skittish. If you tried to use the trolling motor to move up within casting range, they'd spook and you couldn't catch them.
In retrospect, I should have focused on the points. Instead, on both competition days I was essentially practicing. Since I didn't have anything solid coming out of the practice period, I was forced to use competition time to do more practice. Even though I had identified those two patterns in practice, I hadn't refined them well enough to capitalize on them once the tournament started.
In the end, though, this was one in a string of tough tournaments for me. It's been a rough season — one of my worst in a long time, and I'm still trying to figure it all out.
If you're a tournament fisherman, you have to be careful not to beat yourself up too much after a tough event. If you go too far, you can damage your confidence, and that can be fatal to you as a competitor.
No matter how bad the tournament, you need to find something you can walk away with and build on. You have to learn from each experience.
That's what I'll be doing with my Lake Murray experience.