Bad choices make for bad results

Sometimes you have to just tell it like it is; no sugarcoating and no beating around the bush. So, here goes: My tournament performance on Lake Seminole was horrible. I didn’t get it done. Heck, I didn’t even come close to getting it done.

The summary of what happened is that I missed the fish. I didn’t know, or anticipate, that they would move as shallow as they did. When you make a mistake like that, you don’t catch them or at least you don’t catch the ones you want to catch. And you finish 75th if you’re in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.

It would be easy to say that I crashed because I was fishing against the best of the best but that wouldn’t be totally true. The same thing happens if you’re out for a casual day of recreational fishing. If you expect to catch them you have to fish where they are and anticipate any movements they might make during your trip. That’s not a choice. It’s a necessity.

That’s the lesson for all of us. Fishing successfully isn’t about throwing baits in the water or fishing hard and breaking a sweat. It’s about fishing smart, taking the time to figure things out so that when you do start casting your efforts will be productive.

The guys who did that on Seminole caught them. Those of us who didn’t do that didn’t catch them.

That’s in the past, though. We’re now getting ready for the St. Johns River. It’s time to look forward. There’s a lesson in that I want to talk about, too.

As an angler — professional, recreational, or a combination of the two — you can’t let a tough day define you, and you can’t let a spectacular day define you. Yesterday is just that. It’s yesterday.

Just because you’ve struggled in the past doesn’t mean you’re a bad angler. It means you had a hard day. You have to believe in yourself. At the same time, just because you loaded the boat on the day before doesn’t mean you have this thing figured out. Fishing is much more complicated than that.

Part of the complication I’m referring to comes from the fact that there’s a lot of stuff going on out there that we don’t understand. No two days are exactly the same, and no two bodies of water are exactly the same. And, for sure, no two fish are exactly the same. We aren’t the same two days in a row, either.

Sure, there are trends, and fish behave in somewhat predictable ways. We all know that. But we are still trying to trick fish into grabbing something that isn’t real. They live in an environment that we know little about and that neither fish nor man can control or change.

All of what I’m saying boils down to — Never give up! This can be a tough and unforgiving game. Accept that, relish in it and always believe that the fish of a lifetime is just one cast away.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website,

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