St. Johns River breakdown, Part 2

If you remember, last week we were talking about Day 2 and the 37-pound, 9-ounce sack I brought to the scales. Here’s the rest of the St. Johns River story.

One of the things you have to keep in mind when you’re fishing competitively is what the other guys are doing. When things are tough for you, they’re likely tough for the other guys. And when you’re catching them it’s likely that the other guys are doing the same thing. That’s especially the case in high-level competition like the Elite Series.

If you doubt what I’m saying, go back and watch Friday’s weigh-in. The number of heavy sacks and big, individual fish was amazing. The bite was on. There’s no other way to put it.

On Day 3, I returned to Dexter. I knew I’d taken a lot of good ones out of there but I also  knew I was in a groove and figured I could catch another pretty good sack if I slowed down and fished the way I needed to fish. That worked out fairly well, although I have to admit that one big fish saved my tail.

The last day was more of a challenge. My tournament was going as well as anyone could possibly hope but Dexter isn’t very big. There are only so many quality bass in one area, even in Florida. There was no doubt I was beginning to wear out my welcome. I could feel it. But I decided to go back anyway because I thought I had the timing down.

What I mean by “had the timing down” is that I changed the times I hit the pads. I figured the bass were moving a little differently. I was able to stay with them. My catch wasn’t anything close to what I had on Friday but it was good enough for the win.

The reason I’m going through all of this is not because everything worked out. The point is to let you in on some of the mental processes that go into successfully fishing a tournament.

Maybe one of the most important things about the St. Johns event is that I was able to fish my strengths. I was fortunate enough to find prespawn and postspawn fish. I wasn’t forced into sight fishing all day.

Another important factor was that I used my knowledge of the water to find a place that suited my style. I love to fish pads. I had pads in Dexter. It’s important to fish in your comfort zone whenever possible.

Timing was a third factor. Sometimes fishing a spot earlier or later can make all the difference in the world in how many bites you get. You can only learn to do that from experience. There are no hard and fast rules about timing and movement.

Finally, don’t discount the importance of good fortune. I landed my big fish. Sometimes that doesn’t happen, despite the fact that you’re doing everything right. That’s why we call it fishing.

All in all, it was a great week. We were blessed. Now it’s time to enjoy Guntersville.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website,

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