Dealing with pressure

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B.A.S.S.

I want to talk about pressure this time. We all deal with it at one point or another in our lives. Some of us have a lot of it, others not so much. I’ve had a fair amount in my life so what I’m facing now is no big deal to me. In fact, I welcome it. 

Here’s my situation: I’m currently in 44th place in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That’s below the cut, but a spot in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk is still within reach if I do well at the next two events.

Make no mistake about my thinking. I want to be in every Bassmaster Classic, especially next year’s considering that it’s the one following my first Elite Series win. 

A lot of anglers would feel a huge amount of pressure to be in my position. I don’t so much. I mean, I’m aware of what’s at stake, but I’m not going to let it get to me. Things have never come easy for me so this situation is nothing new. 

Back when I did flooring I had a lot of pressure on me. And, when I first started fishing competitively I felt pressure. That was on the Ohio River. The pressure not to miss a bite is always around on her because there might not be another one for a while. 

Another point where there was pressure was at the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake. I knew I was in the running to win, but I also knew how tough it is to win any tournament, much less an Elite Series one. Nevertheless I put my head down. I ignored everything except the cast I just made and the one I was about to make. And, after more than 150 events I finally got my win. 

From my early days all the way through that win I learned to ignore the pressure of what was at stake and just concentrate on the task at hand. It was always a matter of keeping my head screwed on straight. I was able to teach myself to ignore everything around me and just go forward.

If I have anything to say to my fellow anglers, it’s that you should do the same. Forget about what’s a stake, put your head down and do the best you possibly can. And, remember that this is fishing. It’s important, but no one is going to die if you don’t catch a big one. Anybody who’s worth anything will still love you no matter if you win or not. Jennifer and the kids still loved me even though I didn’t have a win from July of 2005 until March of 2021. 

I don’t mean to toot my own horn or act like I have everything under control. I don’t. I do know, however, that pressure is mental. It comes from inside you. It’s not about external things. How you deal with it is a choice. That monkey you hear so much about sitting on your back can’t stay there if you don’t give him anywhere to sit.

So, when you start feeling pressure just ignore it. Make one cast at a time and catch one fish at a time. Remember, this is fishing.