First off, let me say that Tenkiller is a great lake. I’d never been there before, but I’m glad for the change. I really enjoyed fishing it. It’s OK with me if we go back.
Beyond that I have to say that this wasn’t my best performance. I said at the beginning of the year that I was going to fish my way and that it would either work or it wouldn’t. Well, for most of this year it has worked, but last week at the 2019 Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller it didn’t.
I have no regrets, though. I’m a shallow water angler. The worst things for me are high, flooding water or falling water that puts the shoreline bushes and scrubs on dry land. I had the dry version last week.
The crazy thing about it is that I caught good numbers of bass both days. It’s just that most of them were short, not by much but still short. Unfortunately, this isn’t horseshoes. Close don’t count.
As Friday rolled along I kept thinking I would finally catch one that was big enough to put in the livewell and big enough to make a difference in my total weight. That would have given me five. But it never happened.
I did catch my fifth bass. It was long enough, but it wasn’t in very good shape. I turned it loose. I want to give them the best chance possible to survive, and I really didn’t want to take the dead fish penalty.
If I had kept it — even if it had died — I would have made the Friday night cut and fished on Saturday.
That’s hindsight, though, and you can’t let yourself think that way. The only reason I mention it is because I’m writing this column. I want everyone to see the whole picture.
As a professional you make decisions on the water based on what you know and what you think at the time. For me that means fishing to my strength. Shallow bass are what made me a Bassmaster Elite Series angler, and shallow bass are what put me in my best season ever so far this year. I’m not going to abandon them now. It’s a matter of fishing to your strengths and accepting the outcome.
The bottom line to all of this is that you have to leave it on the water. If you don’t, you make yourself miserable and everyone around you miserable. It doesn’t make sense to do that to yourself, and it’s unfair to do that to those around you. My wife deserves a smiling husband, and my kids deserve a smiling father. It’s my responsibility to give them that.
Now, as I’m driving towards Lake St. Clair to fish the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship I’m thinking I’ll do the same thing come Sunday. It’s a matter of knowing and accepting that when you live by the sword, you die by the sword.