Back to work

Our downtime is over. We had a wonderful vacation wandering around out West taking in the sights and resting our heads and bodies. But that was then and this is now. It's time to get serious about going back to work.

I'm really looking forward to Smith Mountain. It's a real opportunity for me, especially after my fourth and 25th place finishes out in California. I'm in a great position in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race for 2010.

Last year I finished in 42nd place on Smith Mountain. I caught about half the weight VanDam caught for his win. This year I intend to do much better, and I think things are shaping up to go my way.

This year's tournament is a week earlier than the one last year. That, coupled with the cold winter we've had, will likely — not for certain, but likely — make a big difference. The fish should be earlier than last year.

I'm hoping they'll be in their true prespawn mode. If they are, I should be able to do well with a Berkley Football Head Jig or a LaserLure crankbait of some sort. They're terrific lures, and they fit perfectly into my style of fishing.

But, if they're on the beds, I'll still catch them — one way or the other. I'm confident of that. I'm fishing a lot better since the postseason tournaments last fall. I haven't been getting a lot of bites, but I have landed most of the ones that have bit. That's a very good trend.

I'm fishing with confidence. That's really important. It's what this sport is all about at our level. So far I've been able to ignore that little bird that perches on your shoulder telling you over and over to catch a limit of keepers. (I hate that bird. If you let her, she'll talk you into going safe instead of looking for monsters.)

Keepers aren't all bad, of course. It's just that when you're fishing against these guys, keepers will get you nothing but a butt whipping in most tournaments. I mean it's OK to make a cut or two and get a check, but it's better to win. There's nothing like hoisting that trophy over your head and being declared the best, even if it's only until the next tournament.

Anyway, I'm currently in fifth place in the Angler of the Year standings, only 65 points behind Skeet Reese. I'm not saying that being behind is good, but I am saying it's doable. I love the challenge. That's what life is all about. Lay it on the line.

That's enough ruminating for now. It's time to replace the line on my reels, check my hooks, make sure my gear is organized, kiss Becky on the cheek and go out and catch some bass — big bass.