You might not be familiar with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Russell Parrish, but he hopes to change all that in 2012. You see, Parrish finished 92nd in the Elites as a rookie in 2011, calling it "the most frustrating year of fishing in my life."
Lots of things contributed to his struggle, not the least of which were the lack of time he had to prepare (he learned he qualified for the Elite Series just two months before the first tournament) and the fact that he had fished only one of the lakes before official practice periods began.
Things will be different for the Texas pro in 2012, and he's working to make sure of that. His resolution for the New Year and the new Elite season is to be better prepared and more adaptable. If you're a tournament fisherman, you'd be wise to follow suit.
Last year, Parrish's preparation was late and far less comprehensive than he wanted it to be. As the last man in the Elites, he had little advance time to learn all he could about tournament waters and no time to actually see them with his own eyes. That changes in 2012.
"I've had a chance to get on the water at all of the lakes and rivers on the 2012 schedule," he says, "and it's great to have that 'feel' for things. It makes a big difference in my confidence level and makes me much better prepared for the actual tournament."
For Parrish, this preparation begins at home on the internet. He searches tournament websites to get a better idea of what the seasonal patterns will be when he arrives at the venue. He watches the weather and water levels, and he pours over Google Earth to get the lay of the land, studying the nooks and crannies of the waterways and learning what he can about navigating the lake or river.
"Google Earth is an amazing tool," he says. "You can plug in previous dates and see what the lake looks like at low water levels. Quite often you can spot something online that would have taken days or weeks to locate in person."
This year, Parrish is striving to be more thorough than ever before. That's what it takes to succeed at the Elite level. His goal for 2012 is daunting, but one he feels he can achieve. He wants to earn a check in all eight Elite events, a feat accomplished by only Kevin VanDam in 2011.
One way that Parrish believes he'll take a step toward that goal is by being more adaptable. It doesn't mean he won't fish to his strengths, though. The Texan is a shallow water specialist, but can grind it out in deep water when the need arises.
"Instead of being stubborn and doing what I want," declares Parrish, "I'm going to have a backup plan that matches up with the fishery and the conditions I'm facing." He says it with the conviction of a man who knows he fell short of that ideal a year ago and is not going to let it happen again.
Parrish says he worked hard on the tournament trail in 2011, but is working even harder this year. He's entering the season with more confidence than ever, and he's ready to pull the trigger on decisions he was tentative about a year ago.
"I plan to turn some of my weaknesses into strengths this year. A lot of those techniques may be big in 2012, and I want to be ready."