A wakeup call

I’ll tell you what, folks, I got a wakeup call last week in Arkansas. I finished 86 in the field and I currently sit in 60th place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. It’s time to put the first three Elite Series tournaments behind me and get started on the next five.

The thing that happened at Bull Shoals was that my water didn’t warm the way the other water in the lake did. I had a couple of good spots — I actually thought they might be winning spots — but the water around them was pretty much the coldest water in the lake. At one point during practice, I measured the temperature at 49.1 degrees. That’s cold for the third week of April in Arkansas.

Once the tournament got going, everything started to warm up but my spot. Some of the guys were fishing water that was in the high 50-degree range. The best my water did was move up into the low 50s. That wasn’t enough.

I caught limits both days but that doesn’t matter much in an Elite event. In most tournaments, the only thing a limit will do is earn you the weekend off. You have to catch fish that are big enough to matter. That means fish that are a little bigger than the ones the other guys are catching. Mine weren’t that big and so they didn’t matter much.

I’m telling you this by way of explanation not by way of excuse. A lot of the other guys caught them. I should have done the same thing. I’m a professional angler. I’m supposed to catch fish, fish that make a difference when they hit the scales.

That’s all behind me, though. I’m really looking forward to the next five tournaments. We don’t fish again until May 2 at West Point. That gives me some time at home to rest, relax and get ready to catch them the rest of the year.

I’m not planning on doing anything special by way of mental or physical preparation. I don’t really need that. I’m not negative about things at all. I know how to fish. I just need to go out and do it. My goal is to win one if I can. If not, I’ll claw my way up in the standings to make sure I qualify for next year’s Classic.

Believe me when I tell you I’ll be there fishing my home lake if it’s at all possible. The ramp we’re going out of is less than a mile by water from my house. I get excited every time I think about it.

You might want to think about going, too. It’s not too early to plan your trip. Guntersville is a great place in February, especially if you’re from a colder part of the country. You can thaw out and watch the greatest bass anglers in the country at the same time. Besides, the city is rolling out the red carpet in true Southern fashion. In short, we’ve got everything covered.

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