Preparation is paramount

One of the mantras that I live by is that preparation is more important than game day. Usually that means putting in your time on the water scouting before cutoffs and then buckling down during the actual practice days. Right now, though, we're past the cutoff for the first Elite events in Florida, and my scouting is all done. We start practice next week, but there is still some very important preparation going on right now that can help me be successful in the upcoming tournaments.

Basically, what I'm trying to do right now is eliminate anything that may be a distraction or take up tournament time later. I'm trying to cover everything possible. I break my preparation down into several parts. Right now I'm getting ready for two Florida events, and I'm coming home for a week after that, so any preparation that needs to be done for future events can be done at that time. This time is all about the Harris Chain and the St. John's River.

The first thing in my preparation is getting my boat ready. My boat prep is already done. What I do there is make sure that everything's running good, the SHO is set to the right height and it's got the right prop on it and anything that needs to be maintained is all good. I check out everything that I can to make sure that every single aspect is rock-solid before competition. Also, getting the wrap done and putting decals on it fall into this category.

The second part is tackle. Check out the photo. I break the tackle prep down into steps like this: rods, reels, line then baits. In these steps I make sure that my reels are spooled with the right size line, pack extras for situations that might arise and cover up anything that can go wrong. I get everything into the boat in an organized fashion so I can access things quickly and without hassle. This saves time on the water. Also, I pack up things that I might need but probably won't.

Preparation for these two tournaments is going to be a little trickier than what it normally is because we usually travel in our motor home — I call it "the bus." When we're driving the bus, I can throw a whole tackle shop under there so I don't worry about leaving anything behind. For this event, though, I have a really close friend who lives near the Harris Chain who is going to be out of town at that time, so he's letting my family stay in his home for the event. I'm really thankful for that. But it means I have to be more judicious in packing the Sequoia. I can't take everything under the sun like I can when we drive the bus.

So, that's my goal for the week — getting everything all prepped for Florida.

We're leaving Wednesday night at 10 p.m. because we're going to stay and watch the last Lady Bears home game of the season. Then we're jumping in the car and heading to Toledo Bend so I can spend a few days riding and scouting there. It's almost 8 feet low right now, and I have never seen it that low. Anytime a lake is really low, you're doing yourself a big favor by visiting it. It reveals a lot that you wouldn't be able to see otherwise.

After that, it's a long day's drive to the Harris Chain in Tavares, Fla. I hope we don't have any wild travel stories to tell everybody about.

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