He's earned more than $700,000 since fishing his first BASS event in 1991, and his accomplishments include a Bassmaster Top 150 win and 41 Top 20 finishes.But Mike Wurm's consistency is his legacy, with 108 Top 50 finishes out of 187 tries. The Arkansas Bassmaster Elite Series pro simply has been one of the most-consistent anglers on the circuit.And yet he found himself struggling during the early 2009 season, with twin 62nd place finishes.
Over the years I've been very, very consistent most of the time," Wurm said. "Very rarely do I have a really down year, but this one is shaping up that way unless I can turn it around. We've only had two tournaments, but it's been hard."I just don't know what's going on."The fact is that Wurm might have been due a bad stretch, since long-term consistency is a rarity in professional fishing.
This sport is historically an up and down sport," he said. "You see it happen to guys all the time. They'll have a bang-up year and then they'll have something happen and they just can't catch one with both hands, and then, boom, they come back."Really the only guy who is that consistent is Kevin (VanDam)."That's little comfort, however, and Wurm said the possible reason for his slump is how he's been practicing.You don't really check everything, and I think that's what my problem is: My practice time isn't quality like it used to be," he said.His longevity and consistency in the sport might be one of the biggest obstacles he faces.Maybe I'm too comfortable," Wurm said. "Maybe I'm taking things for granted, thinking I'll catch them. He said his pre-tournament practice for the Toyota Trucks Diamond Drive in late March was a perfect example.I didn't practice well for this tournament. I didn't cover the water I should have in practice; I left too much water out there," Wurm said He said he simply fell back on past experience on Dardanelle, which proved to be a huge mistake."It burned me a little bit because the only time I've been here is summertime," Wurm said. "This is the first time I've ever been on the lake in March, but I kept trying to revert back to what I do normally."That means he didn't simply get out-fished, but that he effectively torpedoed his own tournament."In practice I always try — and I haven't been doing it lately — to establish or eliminate," Wurm said. "That's what you do in practice: You make the body of water smaller and establish either a pattern or an area, and eliminate the rest of it. And I didn't do that."But there's no room for mistakes in today's professional fishing ranks."With these guys you can't take anything for granted. With only a half-day (on the first day of the Dardanelle event), you saw what they caught," he said. "And they're like that everywhere. It doesn't matter what body of water you go to what time of year, these guys are going to catch them."
He said the result is that simply catching daily limits isn't enough anymore."We're going to quality waters now, and you can't count on just catching keepers. You're going to have to catch better quality fish," Wurm acknowledged. "That's one thing I'm not doing, catching better quality fish."That means Wurm has to approach tournaments in a new way.
"I'm going to really do some soul searching, and I'm going to change my practice up a little bit," he said. "I'm going to have to do a little soul searching and quit making those boneheaded mistakes. "At the same time, he's hoping for Lady Luck to turn her fickle face back toward one of the legends of the sport."It's kind of like a batting slump, you kind of snap out of it," Wurm figured. "Or like a shooting slump in basketball: You just keep shooting, and you're going to make it eventually."I'm hoping that's what happens here. I need to get out of this downswing and get on the upswing and start catching them."