In the hunt

OK guys, here's the way it shook out today.

I started off fishing Plan A. That was the power fishing pattern that I developed as a backup pattern on Wednesday. I thought that was the way to catch the fish I needed to win. But, after three hours and with only one small fish in the boat, I decided to go with Plan B. That was my finesse pattern that I developed earlier in my practices.

The reason I switched was simple. Plan A just didn't feel right. It seemed like the right idea this morning at daylight but after a while I sensed that it wasn't going to get the job done. It wasn't just that I wasn't getting the bites. There was more to it than that.

Something else was going on. I can't put my finger on exactly what that something was but it was there. I could feel it. Sometimes you have to go with your instincts. Decision making on the water isn't a science, at least not in the conventional sense of the word. It's often based on experience, on a feeling.

I think that's where a lot of guys make mistakes. They don't trust their feelings and their gut. They're afraid to follow their instincts. It's easy to make this fishing business tougher than it really is. You have to be careful about that. Go with your gut. You'll be right 90 percent of the time.

Another common mistake many anglers make is not having enough options. In a three day tournament you should have at least two plans of attack. Three or four is much better. Multiple patterns serve two purposes — they help you catch fish and they give you confidence when things get tough, as they often do. That, in turn, also helps you catch fish.

The fish catching part is obvious. If they're not biting, try something else. The confidence part should be obvious, but all too often it isn't. When you have options you have choices. When you have choices you don't panic and your decision making process isn't ruled by fear. It's ruled by reason and instinct.

Back to the tournament: Thanks to my change in strategy I ended up with 14 pounds, 9 ounces including big bass of the day. (A 6-pound, 10-ounce honey caught later in the afternoon on Plan B.) That puts me an ounce short of 5 pounds behind the leader, Kevin VanDam. I'm well within striking distance if my fish hold up.

I think we're all a little surprised by the weights. Most of us thought they'd be a lot less than they were today. With the weather scheduled to improve and the bite the way it is I think the weights will go up on Saturday, and Sunday could be a serious blowout. That's a different scenario, isn't it? Weights don't usually go up as a tournament progresses. They usually go down.

This thing will probably go down to the wire. I don't think we'll know who won until very late Sunday afternoon. There are a bunch of guys still fishing who can catch them and who know how to fish a high-pressure tournament. Who knows what'll happen, or who'll get on them before it's over. It'll be an interesting weekend, no doubt about that.

I'll post again tomorrow after the weigh-in.