Do as I say, not as I do

Sometimes I need to listen to my own advice. In previous columns I've discussed pre-fishing tactics and recommended picking a small area of a lake and really breaking it down before moving to other areas. This past weekend at Toledo Bend, I didn't do that and it might have cost me a very high finish.

I'm not sure why, but I covered a lot more water during the official practice period in this event than I should have. I ended up finding two areas that I thought could be good, but they were over 20 miles apart.

Heading into the event I was leery of my two areas being so far apart. On Day 1, I ran to the first area, and while I caught a decent bag I underestimated the area and didn't know that just a few hundred yards away were the fish that could have put me in the Top 12. I know that because three anglers that finished in the Top 12 were fishing in the area.

On Day 2, I moved to my second area. Once again, I had a decent day — just like on the first day. I wasn't as intimately familiar with the area as I should have been, and I never found the best parts. And within sight of me were several more anglers that finished in the Top 12.

In the end, I had a solid finish — 27th, which coincidentally also moved me to 27th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. However, if I had spent more time in an area and really understood what was going on there, I could have had a monster tournament.

I guess the lesson I learned was that even on a lake I know I need to stick to the basics and break it down from scratch. Doing so on Toledo Bend would definitely have helped me.

Before I go, I want to give a huge shout out to the great people of Toledo Bend. While the lake is one of my favorite three lakes in the world (along with Clear Lake in California and Falcon Lake on the Texas-Mexico border), the people around it are second to none. They really know how to welcome anglers to their area, and they do it every time we come back.