Not too long after the 2019 Cherokee Casino Tahlequah Bassmaster Elite at Fort Gibson Lake was postponed I received a call from Mark Zona. He invited me to go fishing with him up in his neighborhood and do some filming for Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show. I jumped at the chance.
I live in Texas. There’s no way I’m going to pass a chance to fish prime smallmouth bass waters that are crystal clear, had ice on them three weeks ago and where all the fish are hungry.
We caught big smallie after big smallie. I learned a lot about that species of black bass, things I’d never have learned without watching Zona fish and being tutored by him. It was an experience I’ll never forget and that I hope to repeat. (That’s a hint, Mark — just in case you didn’t get it.)
It was the earliest I’d ever fished like that, and I think it might have been the earliest he’s ever fished like that. I love the largemouth fishing in Texas, but I have to be honest. I can see why there’s a cult that surrounds smallies. It wouldn’t be hard to get sucked into it if you were able to fish in that neighborhood on a regular basis.
Watch the show for the details about what we did and why we did it. Actually, I suggest you watch all his shows. It really is awesome.
But, that was only about 25 percent of my learning experience. The other 75 percent was how to work in front of a camera. Zona’s a natural when the little red light is on. Most of us aren’t, and most of us includes me.
The biggest thing he showed me was how to be myself without looking like I was trying to be myself. Far too often we’re up on the stage or being filmed, and we put on a mask. We try to look and act like somebody we’re not. We don’t do it to deceive people. We do it because we want people to take us seriously and to like us.
Zona showed me the trick to being taken seriously and being liked is to be yourself, to let your real personality come through. I’m not going to review everything he said and showed me because it would take too long, and besides it wouldn’t do any good without immediate feedback.
Unless you’re lucky enough to be personally tutored by Zona the best thing I can tell you is to watch some film of yourself and see if it looks and sounds like you. If that’s too difficult, have your wife, girlfriend or fishing buddy do it for you. Make sure they know they need to be brutally honest. If they tell you you’re wearing a mask, don’t argue with them. Get rid of it.
The importance of being yourself in front of a camera can’t be overstated. Pros don’t earn their living from winnings. We keep the wolf away from the door with sponsors who support our efforts. They want authentic value for the money they spend.
And another thing: Everybody has a cellphone these days and every cellphone records video. Make sure you’re genuine at all times. If you’re around a group of people and they know you’re a Bassmaster Elite Series pro, you’re probably being filmed. It will be posted on the internet for all the world to see.
And another, another thing: Thanks Mark!