This is not how I would have liked to start the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series season. I’ve been battling the flu all through practice, and it looks like I’ll still have some of the symptoms during this week’s first event on Lake Martin.
The life of a professional fisherman can be very demanding when everything is going as it should, but when you add in an illness like the flu, it makes things a lot more difficult.
Professional bass fishing has all the same challenges to deal with that any other job would have. The difference being, no matter how bad you feel, you can’t reschedule a practice day and you certainly can’t reschedule a tournament.
But I must say that I’m thankful, at least, for the timing of this illness. The worst of it — the really miserable symptoms with body aches, fever — came last week. It was probably the most uncomfortable prep weeks I’ve ever experienced, but that’s behind me now and I’m on the downhill side of it.
There’s no question that starting a tournament in less than 100 percent health isn’t my preference, but it does illustrate a larger principle that I’ll be applying to my tournament season. My motto, which will help me reach my goal this season is: “Catch the next bass.”
Instead of worrying about catching the next limit or winning the tournament, it’s catch the next bass. I’m really trying to break down this game to its smallest elements, because when I do that, catching the next bass doesn’t seem like such a daunting task.
I’m not one who performs well when I have daunting tasks in front of me, but when I have steps that are easy to take, it motivates me and makes me think, “I can do this.”
Every tournament is won one base at a time. And to that point, I’m basing my strategic thinking on the concept of setting achievable goals. Of course, I have the overriding goals of making the Bassmaster Classic and winning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, but I’m learning how to not look ahead in my tournaments.
This week, I can’t be focused on the upcoming Classic; I need to be focusing on Lake Martin. And I don’t need to be focusing on tomorrow’s practice day; I need to be focusing on today’s practice day. So, it’s really about accomplishing the task at hand now.
One question I often ask myself is: “Is what I’m doing right now going to help me catch the next bass?” I believe this line of thinking works with most goals in life.
Now, this also applies to my efforts to recover from the flu. You don’t think about off-the-water stuff helping you catch fish, but if you’re taking steps that make you more physically capable and effective, then they absolutely do.
Every day, I need to hydrate, take my vitamins and doctor-prescribed medicine, and eat the right meals that will help me regain my strength. Also, I’m doing a lot of hand washing and sanitizing to prevent giving this flu to my wife or my son.
I have to keep asking myself if what I’m doing will help me move to that next level of recover — just like catching that next fish.