Welcoming adversity

My fishing career has always been one of starting slow and finishing strong. I don’t know why that is, but this year on the Basspro.com Bassmaster Open trail has been no different. My first two events were awful. I turned left when I should have turned right. I ate pancakes when I should have had eggs. It’s just been one of those years so far. 

Ok, enough with the negativity. As my good friend Brian Latimer says, “Adversity is dope.” Latimer looks at adversity in a positive light, and I think that’s awesome. Staying positive is key.

I look at that statement and reflect back to my first two Opens this season. I didn’t let adversity become a positive feature in my game; I let it get me down. On top of that, I didn’t trust my gut. So two big issues — I wasn’t positive and didn’t trust my gut. Those two aspects cost me good finishes.

The first step to fine tuning your game is to understand what you’re doing wrong. In this case, I let little things tear me down, and I didn’t trust my ability. I did this at both Bassmaster Opens. I’m better than this.

So let’s look at the positive side of things. We have six Bassmaster Opens left. That’s a lot of tournaments to readjust my mindset. Now that I’ve recognized the problems, I can fix them.

Elite Series pro Brandon Palaniuk actually has a method for trusting his gut. It’s a countdown system for making decisions called the "Five Second Rule." It forces him to make a decision in five seconds about where he will go and what he will do. Once the decision is made, he forces himself to trust the decision and the process. I used it last season and won twice — you think it works? It’s a risky decision making process, but eight times out of 10 your gut is right.

Some of my best finishes in tournaments have been full of adversity. I remember one college event where my fishing partner Ryan Watkins and I woke up an hour and half late and finished in second place. We didn’t let a little issue keep us from having a good event. We just laughed it off and put our heads down and fished.

I used to welcome issues, maybe because I just expected them to happen. I’ve always liked events when it was extremely windy, raining, snowing, etc., because I’ve always believed rough weather eliminates part of the field.

Mentally, a lot of anglers let adverse conditions ruin their event. In some cases, they don’t make decisions they typically would make, aren’t completely focused on catching bass and let their minds overwhelm them with negativity. We’ve all done that from time to time. 

I have six Bassmaster Opens left. Six opportunities to right the ship, get back on track and make good decisions. I still have six chances to make the Bassmaster Classic, bump up in Angler of the Year standings and make the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series.

The next events will be different. I will welcome adversity and use the Five Second Rule. I will be just fine.