We all like to expand our horizons, get bigger and better. There are times, however, when it’s better to go with what you know. That’s the way I see professional bass fishing.
I’ve written columns in the past saying that I was going to fish my way, but it didn’t work out for me. It wasn’t so much that my strategy was wrong. It wasn’t. It was that my execution was off and that I suffered from bad breaks. I missed bites. I lost fish, and they were ones that mattered. The result was that I didn’t do what I’m capable of doing.
The most frustrating part of it all was that I didn’t know what was wrong, and I still don’t. Things just weren’t going my way.
I don’t want to paint too dark of a picture of the past few seasons, however. I still did fairly well, and I was able to support my sponsors the way I should. I qualified for the Bassmaster Classic in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In 2016 I finished fourth.
That’s not a disaster, but it’s also not all there is to being a professional. At this level nothing hurts more than knowing you’re capable of doing better. It’s about meeting your expectations, not someone else’s.
When that happens it’s easy to give up on what you know, to change your style of fishing. It gets in your head. You think what you’re doing isn’t working. That it’s time for a radical change.
Well, after a lot of hard thinking I decided not to do that. I made up my mind this year that I was going to fish shallow with swim jigs and when I wasn’t doing that I’d be flipping and pitching. That’s what got me here. It’s what I know.
Our recent tournament, Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at Lake Guntersville, proves that my thoughts were right.
I was concerned going into the event. Everything and everybody said that to do well you’d have to fish offshore. Nevertheless, I closed my mind to all of that. I made up my mind that I’d live or die shallow doing what I know.
It worked out for me. I ended up in 14th place. That fit right in with the rest of my season. When it was over and done with I was in fourth place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That’s the best I’ve done in a while.
I don’t know what the rest of the year will bring, but I do know that I’m going to be shallow with a swim jig rod in one hand and a flipping stick in the other.
The reason I’m going over all of this is to encourage all of my readers to hang in there when you think things aren’t working. Do not get discouraged and change everything you’re doing. Stick with what you know and at some point it’ll pay off for you. It’s really about having faith in yourself.