With the Bassmaster Classic in the rearview mirror and the start of the 2015 Bassmaster Elite Series on the Sabine River right in front of me, I have to say I’m happy to get this new season underway.
There’s always that excitement and anticipation to get a new year rolling. With the exception of the Classic, we’ve mostly been off for about five months, so it feels good to get back to fishing and get things going in the right direction.
There’s the anticipation to start, but you want to get off to a good start. I think it’s important to have a good performance at the first event of the season because it sets the tone for the rest of the year.
If you have a good finish in the opening tournament, that momentum carries with you throughout the rest of the season. But if you start off in the hole, you’ll struggle with that hanging over your head.
Now I did get some tournament fishing in the week before this first Elite event. I fished the B.A.S.S. Central Open on Ross Barnett and, while a fourth-place finish will give me some momentum this week, the real benefit was just getting back into the routine.
More specifically, I fished that Open event because of the style of fishing it required. Throughout the winter and in the Classic, I was fishing deeper – a lot of jerkbaits. But I wanted to get back into the shallow fishing that I know I’ll face on the Sabine River.
I’m glad I fished this event because it helped me get back into the shallow water mindset for this week’s Elite event. I felt a little rusty the first day, but it all came together and I ended up with a good finish.
It was a good tournament. The water was dirty and there was a lot of current. I think that‘s what the Sabine River will be like.
I never actually pre-practice for Elite events, but I came down early and spent a few days on the Sabine. That was mainly just to drive around and make some marks on my Garmin.
When the Elites were here in 2013, I didn’t get to see much, so this time, I just got to see some more water and got an idea of what could happen.
This tournament will be kind of different than the rest of the Elite season. You’ll have to commit to what you’re going to do. It won’t be an event where you can run to one area and make a big change two hours into the day because they’re not biting.
Once you commit to an area in this event, you’re committed for the day. You have to have all your ducks in a row to make sure you do the right thing.
We’ll have four or five main directions we can go and each one will require a long run, so once you chose a direction, that’s where you’re going for the day.
As far as the fishing, I kinda think it can be a little bit of everything. They’ve had some warm weather in that area.
Also, whenever you get on these rivers in the south, the spawn kind of spreads out. I’m sure there are some that have spawned, there will probably be a few spawning and I’m sure there will be some that haven’t spawned yet.
I think this will definitely be an event where you’ll have to make every bite count. You always want to catch everything that bites, but this venue can be pretty stingy.
A big fish for Toledo Bend north of where we’ll be fishing is 10 pounds. But a big fish for the Sabine River is 5 pounds. I’ll be surprised if we see any giants, but you don’t know.
My No. 1 goal at this event will be to catch five fish every day. A limit goes a long way at this venue.
When we were here two years ago, practice didn’t go well for me, and honestly, the first day of the tournament, I just wanted to get a bite. But I think we proved that there are some good fish that live in the Sabine River.
You get one of those bites; you gotta get it in the boat.
That’s actually a good strategy for the entire season. I was fortunate to win an Elite event the past two seasons, and of course, I want to win another one this year. Honestly, I want to win eight a year.
There are a lot of good fishermen, and I understand that the odds are against me winning another Elite event. But that won’t stop me from doing my best to win one. I’m going to take one tournament at a time, one day at a time, and if it’s meant to be it will happen.
Starting a new season with wins in the previous two years puts a little pressure on me. With the 2016 Classic returning to Grand Lake, I want to be in that event more than anything. That’s where I fished my first Classic in 2013, and I’d love to have the opportunity to fish in front of a hometown crowd again.
I feel like I’ve done a lot more preparation for this season than I normally do. It’s no walk in the park to earn a Classic spot, so I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I earn mine.