Staying sharp

One of the toughest things about a long gap in tournaments like we’ve had this spring and summer is staying sharp. After a second place finish in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite Series Tournament at Lake Guntersville I want to keep the momentum going. 

Shows like ICAST help a lot because they keep you thinking and talking about bass fishing. I spent most of my time there either talking with other anglers or talking with my sponsors about catching bass. 

The angler part of it is really important. Everyone there is interested in fishing one way or another, and almost all the people on the floor fish. They’re from all parts of the country so they have different ideas about our sport. It’s good to hear what they do and why they do it. It keeps you thinking, especially about things that you wouldn’t think about except for your conversations with them.

The direct contact with sponsors helps, too. That gives you face-to-face contact with the men and women who are with the companies that make professional bass fishing the sport it has become. That’s incredibly valuable because it lets them tell you what they think, and it lets you tell them what you think. 

It’s a free exchange of ideas and attitudes. I’m proud to say that Trait and I are in good shape in that regard. Our sponsors are happy with us, and we’re happy with them.

But I don’t want to leave the show itself out of this conversation. It’s important, too. Being around all the displays of tackle and everything else imaginable connected with fishing keeps you thinking in the right direction. You’re always confronted with something new, something different. 

Something else that’s really helped keep me sharp is Trait fishing the Bassmaster Opens. She has two of them before our next Bassmaster Elite Series tournament, the 2019 Eastern Open at James River and the 2019 Bassmaster Central Open at Mississippi River. 

Between now and the 2019 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River I can talk with a lot of anglers in a tournament setting. I can’t talk to Trait or any of the other competitors, but I can talk to others around the dock as long as they’re not in the tournament. Most of them are still bass anglers, though, so it keeps your head in the game. 

And, I fish as much as possible given our schedules. “As much as possible” means not as much as I’d like but more than the average guy might think. 

The last thing I want to say about keeping sharp is that there’s no substitute for personal contact and communication. I use the internet as much as anyone. I write this column for the internet, and I’m proud of it. At the same time, though, talking directly with someone — about what doesn’t matter as long as it’s fishing related — can’t be replaced. Anglers who don’t appreciate that are missing out on a lot. 

Regardless of your level of expertise it’s important to stay in touch with things and do what you can to stay sharp so that the next time you’re out on the water you can give it your all. Use the internet and all that it offers. It’s a valuable source of information. But don’t neglect face-to-face conversations — even if they don’t seem important at the time.

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