Know thyself

The ancient maxim, know thyself, means different things to different people. To me it’s about my season and how I’m fishing now when compared with how I fished years ago.

Without a doubt, this has been the best year of my career. I finished fourth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. In past few years I’ve finished sixth, seventh and eighth. Although I didn’t win the top prize, I did do better this year. Moving in the right direction is always a good thing. 

And right now, before I go any farther, I want to congratulate Scott Canterbury on his win. He had an extraordinary year. His title as 2019 Angler of the Year was earned and is well deserved.

The AOY is the thing most of us want to talk about. We consider it to be the truest measure of our season. At the same time, though, individual tournaments deserve our attention, too. 

I had three second-place finishes and if it wasn’t for my complete disaster at Winyah Bay — 65th —  my season would have ended differently. But that was yesterday. Now’s the time to think about tomorrow. Saying I’m excited about tomorrow is an understatement. 

My excitement comes from the fact that I’m comfortable in my own skin. I can now say that know thyself applies to me in my fishing. But it didn’t happen overnight. It’s been eight years in the making. 

I’ve often said that I’m a slow learner, especially when it comes to having confidence in the decisions I make on the water. It’s not that I’m not smart enough to understand what’s happening out there because I am. It’s more a matter of confidence based on experience.

When I made decisions this year about what lures to prep for the next day or what rod and reel to pick up I did it with confidence. I believed, more than knew, that what I was doing would get me a bite. There was no hesitation and no second guessing myself. 

That’s a big deal when you do what we do all the time. Doubt will kill you in a fishing tournament. You have to keep moving forward every minute of every day, and you have to do it believing that what you’re doing is the right thing. You can’t reach for one rod and then think you should have reached for something else. 

I hope what I’m talking about makes sense. It’s a head thing. I’m in the right place now. I hope so, anyway. I’d like to move up from second in a couple of events next year.  

In the next two columns I’m going to review a couple of topics that I think will help almost anyone catch more bass, but especially recreational anglers. The first one will cover preparation. It’ll talk about getting ready to catch fish before your boat ever leaves the dock — no secrets, just the basics.  

The second one will cover finding them once you launch. There won’t be any secrets in it, either. Finding bass is mostly about moving around, and then moving around some more.