It's a learning process, Part 1

Every single day in this business is a learning process. I thought we could take a couple of weeks to look at what happened with me in the Classic. As most of you know, I didn’t catch a fish on the first day but I had an 18 pound plus bag the second day.

Let’s look at how everything unfolded. Thinking about it has helped me get better. Hopefully, hearing about it will help you get better.

To begin with I was conflicted about where to fish when I launched on Friday morning. I had a couple of good spots from which to choose. I picked one and made my run. Two hours of hard fishing produced nothing. I tried everything I could think of but couldn’t even get a bite.

From there I went to my second place. If anything, it was worse. The water temperature had dropped 6 or 7 degrees from what it was on Wednesday. I fished another hour or so without a bite and then went back to where I started — same thing. And that’s when my real problems started.

The first thing I let happen was that I started thinking about the weather. I’m from Florida. I’d never seen anything like what was happening on Grand Lake. I don’t say that as an excuse or as a reason but, rather, as an explanation. The cold and the drop in water temperature caused me to wonder why any fish would want to bite. The water temperature was in the 39-41 degree range in some places. It didn’t make sense to me, and I started fishing accordingly.

At the same time I started to get caught up in the spot fishing thing. Instead of collecting myself and changing up things I started running from one spot to another. If you fish, you know what I’m talking about. If they aren’t biting here, they must be biting over there. That’s a bad mindset to get into.

To be fair I tried just about everything I know to catch one. I switched baits, changed my retrieve and tried to make sense of what was happening. But, in truth, I’d lost my confidence. That’s the worst thing that can happen to you in a tournament.

I wasn’t even getting bites. In fact, I didn’t get one all day. That really hurts because not only does it feed into a lack of confidence but it makes it impossible to learn. If you aren’t getting any feedback from the fish you don’t know what to do next or how to change things around.

Friday was a real learning experience, although most of what I learned was after the fact. I’ve always said that there’s only one place in the Classic. That’s first. That’s not to say, however, that coming across the stage as the reigning champion without a fish isn’t tough. It was a long walk from the boat to the stage Friday afternoon.

Next Tuesday we’ll talk about what was different about Saturday, and I’ll share a tip or two about jerkbait fishing.

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