It’s about our future

Last week I decided to head out to the Mississippi River for a little scouting before it went off-limits for the Mississippi River Rumble in June. I’m trying, as best I can, to get off the bottom of the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year list. The idea was to run all three pools without fishing so that when the official practice started I wouldn’t have to spend my time learning to navigate. I could concentrate on finding quality bass.

Frankly, I’m working on my shortcomings. I like to catch fish too much. I know that sounds crazy but it’s true.  After a long drive, my first thought is to feel a bite on the end of my line. I need to get rid of that kind of thinking and worry more about what I’m going to do in the tournament and the weight I’ll carry to the scales. I can’t say this trip was 100 percent successful in that regard but I did manage to make a good start.

But enough of that. When I arrived at the ramp in La Crosse, Wis., I was treated to a real surprise. The Carhartt College Series Midwest Super Regional was about to get underway. It was a moving experience, and I’m not just saying that to be polite. There were kids everywhere doing the right things and getting ready to fish a big tournament. (At my age, I can call anyone in their 20s a kid even if they’re really a young man.)

It’s a little different picture than you sometimes see on street corners. These kids had a sense of purpose, one that includes high morals and an appreciation of the outdoors. It was refreshing to see the future of our sport in this light. The young man who eventually won the tournament was especially noteworthy.

When I pulled up to the ramp, he went out of his way to come over and say hi. He was polite but has an aura of confidence about him that I noticed immediately. To be honest, I thought maybe he was too confident, that maybe he hadn’t fished long enough to understand what bass can do to you. How wrong I was!

Edward Rude III was on something that we can all take to the bank. Mental attitude is everything in this business, really in all of life. He wasn’t overconfident. He was secure in what he knew and how he would approach the task at hand. He believed in himself and his abilities. It paid off in the end. Hats off to him. It was a job well done.

I learned something else, too. That stretch of the Mississippi River is a fishing hotspot. It’s full of bass and full of uncharted backwater areas for us to fish. Watch out when the Elite field arrives. You’re going to see some really fast fishing action, and I suspect that some of the guys who are still in the hunt come Sunday morning will surprise you.