Douglas was a learning experience

The Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on Douglas is over. As I look back on things, I think it’s fair to say that it was a learning experience for all of us if we take the time to think things through. In my case, that learning experience was painful. That’s not necessarily bad, though. Sometimes the painful lessons are the ones you don’t forget.

It’s not so much that what we learned is new. It isn’t. It’s more a matter of relearning things we already know. You could call it reinforcement. I’m talking about two things: not getting into a rut by doing what everyone else is doing and fishing to our strengths when things are on the line and we really need to catch quality bass.

To make my point, I’m going to talk about what I did and what Chris Lane did. Of course, our conversation will center on the Alabama Rig. But I’m not going to say anything about whether it’s good or bad, right or wrong. That doesn’t have a place in our discussion at this time.  

I got caught up in fishing it. I’m not that good with it because I have very little experience with it. In practice I used it a lot under the theory that I needed to learn about it. I caught fish, good ones. But there weren’t enough of them to get me where I wanted to be.

Nevertheless, I kept throwing it in the tournament, even after it was obvious it wasn’t producing for me. After all, everybody else was doing that. It had to be the best thing, right? Chris Lane, on the other hand, didn’t throw it at all. He fished one lure at a time. I finished 114th. He finished 7th.

Looking at the two of us says something. I got caught up in doing what everyone else was doing and I paid a price for it. I didn’t fish my strengths. I fished the Alabama rig not because it was right for me but because everyone else was doing it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if I’d put that darn thing away and tied on a jig, I would have done better. I don’t have the necessary experience with it to compete at the highest levels. You don’t — or at least ought not try to — learn during competition. And under no circumstance should you fish with something you’re not comfortable with.

Those are mistakes Chris Lane didn’t make. He fished to his strengths, did what he was comfortable doing and had a really good tournament.

The lessons for us all are simple enough. We need to do our own thing. The best bite is the one we can make happen. You don’t win chasing other anglers. As we head to Bull Shoals, I’m going to do my best to remember that.

Hey, speaking of Bull Shoals: Make sure you check out the action. There’ll probably be a lot of fish caught and the scenery is extraordinary. Don’t miss a minute of it.

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