My last Bassmaster Elite Series win was at the 2013 Elite Series Evan Williams Bourbon Showdown at St. Lawrence River. This one — the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department — is sweet after four long years. I know a lot of guys have gone longer. I understand that. But I put high expectations on myself and never cut myself any slack — not ever, not for any reason.
It was a weird tournament. I had a good practice but not a great practice. I found big bass but only one at a time. I never really found a group of them. On the other hand, though, I caught them all in the same kind of offshore spots with the same kind of baits so I was able to study my maps and mark a bunch of places.
The other thing that helped me was that I was fishing out by myself most of the time and no one was doing what I was doing. I hate fishing in a crowd, and I hate doing the same thing as the other guys.
In retrospect I have to say that my practice turned out to be a blessing. I was strangely calm going into Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I thought I had enough fish to make a good showing and have a good finish, but I didn’t think I could win. That took the pressure off of me. I just went out and fished, thinking I would do OK. Of course, all that changed after Friday.
I caught heavy weight that day and realized I had a chance to win. But, I had a problem, or what I thought was a problem at the time. That was Saturday off. I was concerned, more than concerned.
Here’s what was happening:
The spots where I was catching one good bass in practice turned into spots that held several good bass during the tournament. The fish were moving in during the day as well as overnight. I was fishing into them and was able to follow them without any real problems. Obviously, things were going my way.
Saturday off worried me to death, however. There’s something like a day and a half between Friday evening and Sunday morning. That’s a long time, more than enough time for my bass to move into my spots and then out of them. How far they would go, and where they would go, was anyone’s guess. I didn’t think I had a clue.
In the end my worries and nerves turned out to mean nothing. I found my fish and managed to catch enough to win.
Like I said, weird.
Something else I want to mention is the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. I’ve been asked about it and my answer has been that I don’t know where I stand, and I don’t want to know. That’s the honest to goodness truth. For the past four years I’ve never thought about it during the season. I haven’t known if I’m going to the next Classic until after the last tournament.
The reason for that is that it might affect my decision making on the water. I want to fish every day with the goal of catching the most weight I possibly can. If I’m worried about points, I might not do that.
So, please don’t tell me where I stand or shout it out to me. And, I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t post it under this column. I don’t ask for much, but I do ask for that.