When B.A.S.S. announced last season’s Elite Series schedule, I saw a huge opportunity. Nearly every venue played to my skill set. Some were repeat fisheries, others were new, yet all made me feel confident in what lay ahead.
Fast forward to today and, well … let’s just say the outcome wasn’t even close to what I had hoped for.
As predicted, many were shallow-water events — situations where I normally excel. And that’s what makes it so painful — knowing I failed to score with the patterns and techniques I’m good at. Either my timing was off, or I simply failed to catch the right grade of fish.
Lakes Martin, Grand, Kentucky and Travis, and the Upper Mississippi River — all were scheduled at the right time for shallow water patterns.
Then there was the postponement of the Sabine River and ultimate cancellation of the Chesapeake Bay tournament — two events that could have helped my cause tremendously.
Although we eventually made it back to the Sabine, our timing wasn’t nearly as good. It was hot with water temperatures approaching 90 degrees, and the fish were in a postspawn funk. As for the Chesapeake, I do well there. In our two previous visits, I finished 11th and sixth respectively. And I felt I was ready — even with the flood — to do well again this time. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that opportunity.
Immediately following the postponement, B.A.S.S. surveyed the Elite field to see if we wanted to reschedule or cancel. I voted to reschedule, and I lobbied hard for it — arguing we wouldn’t win any money sitting at home. Sadly, though, few of my fellow competitors felt the same. The survey results were heavily in favor of cancelling.
Perhaps they were fearful of losing ground in the AOY standings, or maybe it was the added expense of returning to a distant location. I’m sure there is truth to both. But, to me, if it’s on the schedule, we should fish it. Period.
Then came the St. Lawrence River — my favorite fishery. In three previous Elite events, I finished no lower than 15th and made the Top 12 twice. At least there, I felt I could recover some losses.
It was not to be, however. Because of a mechanical failure, I wasn’t able to make weigh-in on Day 2. It was the final blow to a disastrous season.
Although the year brought many disappointments, some very positive things happened, too. Among them were key product launches that utilized my endorsement.
The first was with Ranger and their 50th Anniversary Edition Z-model boats.