Learning from competing

There is a point in every college angler’s career that they experience an invincible mindset. Now this isn’t like normal teenagers where they are daredevils and they push the limits, but instead it’s about skill level.

Elite Series angler is the pinnacle of our sport, but let me tell you that tournament fishing alone is a monster that can’t always be tamed—even at the college level.

College B.A.S.S. gives anglers an opportunity to test their skill while deciding their future without breaking the bank. The opportunity for young anglers to compete nationally and make a name for themselves is worth the price of admission. As a young fisherman, I am benefiting from this system and it may open up future opportunities. But learning along the way is a must.

This past weekend I fished the College B.A.S.S. East Regional on Watts Bar Lake alone. My teammate Michael was in South Dakota training with the military. So by no means was I upset, but rather was more excited about the opportunity to put together a game plan and execute it to the best of my ability.

“The best made plans fall apart.”

Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to tournament fishing. I fished shallow and deep in practice. I ran the gamut and was prepared for both scenarios in the tournament. On the final day of practice my offshore fish were feeding and ready to go and my shallow pattern was lining up perfect.

But adapting was necessary on this body of water. After Day 1 where I weighed-in one fish for a measly 1-13, I was more than frustrated.

Catching over 20 fish and having at least 15 come up just a quarter inch short was overwhelming…but that’s tournament fishing. My pattern had a 12-13 pound limit waiting on me, it just didn’t pan out.

“I’m not good enough.”

Those words are tough to hear, no matter what the context is. What is worse is when you are the one who is saying that about yourself. Adjusting on Day 2 was definitely a necessity and thinking on the run was going to be important. Day 2 was better as I weighed-in three fish for 8-1, but I needed an 18-pound bag to be back in the game. The quality fish were there, but you just don’t always get them in the boat…but that’s tournament fishing.

The exciting thing about being a college angler is that every tournament is a learning experience and the same goal is still on the horizon…the B.A.S.S. National Championship. After unsuccessfully qualifying in Tennessee, I’m heading to Alabama this week to give it one more shot at the Wildcard event on Pickwick Lake.

Learning and growing is a part of the game and the lessons learned at each stop of the season go a long ways. Obviously the goal of Elite Series angler is off in the distance…way off in the distance, but building on each tournament can only make me a stronger tournament angler.

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