Perfect practice

Nothing extraordinary happened at Smith Mountain except that I finished in 52nd place and had the weekend off. That's not my idea of a good time. I want to be exhausted on Sunday night, not well rested.

I don't want to talk about that anymore. Let's talk about perfect practice. By that I don't mean prefishing for a tournament. I mean fishing with a specific lure or using a specific technique under circumstances that help you learn and build your confidence. It's not tough if you start with the right attitude and do the right things.

If you followed my advice from last week, you should have an idea of what you want to do when you get to your lake or river. Take a rod and reel out of your rod locker, tie on your bait and start fishing. Work at it until you catch a fish. That'll give you the confidence you need to continue learning.

Think about what you're doing. Change things up every now and then. Make written notes if necessary so you can remember what worked and what didn't. This is a learning experience. Do it right.

One thing you should not do, however, is continue fishing without success until you're frustrated and angry. All that'll do is sour your attitude and force you into bad habits. Get help if you need it.

Another factor that's very important is to fish where there are fish. Don't laugh. That's not as silly as it sounds. You can't catch them if they aren't there. It makes no sense to try to learn to sight fish when you only have one or two beds marked.

The same thing is true if you're trying to learn how to crank deep. Make sure you're fishing a lake with plenty of bass and that the bass are on the ledges. It'll do you no good to go to Kentucky Lake and crank ledges in the spring. Most of the bass are shallow. Why set yourself up for failure?

That's enough on that subject.

We'll fish Pickwick next week. Some of the guys think a lot of the bass will be in their postspawn transition mode. I sure hope so. I love to fish with my back to the bank. That's my comfort zone.

As of right now I'm in ninth place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. I look at the rest of the season as an opportunity to move up so that I'm in better shape come July when we fish the postseason tournaments. You never know, though, how these things are going to turn out. They can change in a New York minute.

Everyone is so good at this level that a guy can come out of nowhere and bite you. I know you hear that all the time, but it's true. In the Bassmaster Elite Series, you take things for granted at your peril.