Elite No. 3 is in the books and Table Rock was fishing exceptionally well particularly for numbers of fish. Despite catching 25 to 30 fish a day, I was only able to find eight keepers which put me in 103rd place for the second event in a row. It wasn't uncommon to catch 4 to 5 fish on consecutive casts, but the size just wasn't there. I thought if I went through enough fish, I'd eventually find some better quality but it just never happened. Based on BASSTrakk data from the final day, most of the guys spent their time fishing closer to the main lake while I had chosen to run way up the White River.
I was using a jerkbait as were many of the other competitors; I just chose the wrong area to fish. Although my results for these first three events are disappointing, I'm continuing to learn and get more comfortable with each event. I just hope the year isn't over before I get to where I need to be. It's difficult for me to explain in words the adjustment I have felt trying to compete at this level. I like to think of myself as a representative of all the guys who have had success at the local and regional level that want to compete at the Elite level.
I'm still adjusting to even thinking of myself as a professional fisherman. A lot of being able to compete at this level is the mindset. We can all catch fish. Catching fish is the easy part. Making the right decisions to find the fish and manage them during the course of the tournament is where the separation occurs.
Another difficult aspect for me continues to be the unfamiliarity with the lakes. When I'm fishing a familiar lake and not catching them, I can think of 10 other spots to try at that time that all have potential to produce. When I'm on an unfamiliar lake and not catching them, I basically have to go back into practice mode which isn't a formula for success at this level. These lakes and rivers cover so much area; it's difficult to cover most of them thoroughly over the course of 2 1/2 practice days which is what I have been trying to do.
For the next event, I'm going to greatly reduce my practice area and try to learn it well as opposed to learning a little over a larger area. I don't know if that will bring the change I need, but it's obvious I have to change something. I will continue to learn and grow as the year goes on. There's no doubt I will be a better fisherman when this year is over. The hardest part about this is that I feel I'm failing at what I absolutely love to do. Take out the results and I'm having one of the best experiences of my life and I will continue to work as hard as I can. Dream it. Believe it. Live it.
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