Reflection and anticipation

img_2068-alton-jones.jpg

James Overstreet

This week is a time of reflection and anticipation, as we’re moving farther away from the Bassmaster Classic and advancing toward the upcoming Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge. 

I definitely want to congratulate Bassmaster Classic winner Jordan Lee. Since I’ve been fishing, only once before have I seen someone win back-to-back Classics, and that was Kevin VanDam. For Jordan to do that at his age was just incredible.

People need to appreciate just how strong of a statement that is, not only for Jordan and his career as this sets him up as the next major super star of our sport, but also setting up the next generation of anglers.

I believe Jordan’s accomplishment, especially considering his background as a standout Auburn University angler, gives credence to the college fishing organizations and the high school fishing teams. This should give them great inspiration.

For the first time in many years, we’ve seen increases in fishing license sales. A lot of that can be traced to high school and college fishing tournaments, and Jordan’s second Classic victory validates just how good these young anglers are.

Looking at the big picture, this wave of young accomplishments is a great stimulus for our industry. It pushes me, and it’s going to push everyone in the competitive ranks because the bar has been raised.

If I want to compete, I have to raise my game. All of us that want to remain competitive know that there’s never a time when you reach a plateau and you can rest on your laurels and believe you’ve arrived at the top of the sport. It’s always about learning, it’s always about improving and it’s always about growing as a person and in your skill set as a person. 

So, if I had to summarize my takeaway from this Classic, it’s just a wow factor.

I feel pushed and energized by this. In fact, I came home from the Classic and spent several days on the water. No competition, just putting in that time on the water to continue sharpening my skill set and stoking my passion for the sport.

This is the time of year I can really fish my strengths and boost my fun factor in fishing. That’s important, because keeping it fun leads to a strong work ethic. Little Alton has been doing the same. In fact, he caught one almost 11 pounds recently on one of our local lakes. 

The reason I’m soaking up all this inspiration and motivation is that these sentiments will be helpful in our upcoming Elite Series event on the Sabine River. I expect this to be a challenging event because we’ve lost half of the fishable water. The Louisiana side is off limits due to public access issues.

On top of that, we’ve lost two thirds of the Texas waters due to flood stages in the Neches and Sabine Rivers. This leaves very little fishable waters for the anglers, so it’s going to be a mental game. You’ll have to be prepared to catch very few keepers, so it’s going to require a big adjustment.

You fish a tournament like that differently, because being on fish in this type of event is different than being on them in a tournament at Toledo Bend where you’re getting a bite every 10 minutes. On the Sabine, a keeper bite every hour and a half might mean the bite is really on. 

You have to maintain your focus and understand what is happening. A big part of success is knowing what’s good and taking advantage of it.

That’s what Jordan Lee has done, and that’s what we all have to do.