A decent year that didn’t end well

I’ve told you before in this column that I’m a believer in the concept of “it wasn’t meant to be.” If I give something all of my effort and make good decisions, then the outcome will happen, and I’m okay with that.

I’m still struggling a little with this year’s outcome.

I was in a really good spot after Day 2 of the Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River. I was well inside the cut to make the 2024 Bassmaster Classic, and I let it all slip through my fingers on Day 3. I was in the top 20 after Day 1, but I managed only 11-15, then fell to 49th in the event and 45th in the AOY Standings.

It’s not sitting well with me because I didn’t execute. I lost three or four fish that would have made the difference. If I landed one of them, great, but if I land them all, who knows?

What I do know is this game is all about decision making, and for some reason, I’ve got to get back to finding my old way of doing things. I’ve always been the kind of guy who got my limit and then went to work to improve. For some reason I’m taking a lot more chances lately, and it’s just not working out for me the way I want it to.

Normally, when we fish our last event of the Elite Series schedule, I’m ready to hang up the rods and get ready for hunting, but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve got some filming to do for Johnson Outdoors and for Mossy Oak, but I’m also going to try and get into a competitive mindset and try and work some of this out before I go into full hunting mode.

I know one thing I need to work on this winter is getting better with Mega Live. I know the topic of forward-facing sonar can be a bit of a hot button, but it’s a tool that I’m going to have to invest in getting more comfortable with to remain competitive.

I’ve got a lot of decisions to make about how I’m going to improve. Yes, I’m a hunter and I’m going to spend a lot of time hunting with Jen and the kids this offseason. Hunting is part of how I get my body ready to fish the next season. I trudge through water while duck hunting and I condition my hands by not wearing gloves in the cold, but I’m going to have to look at fishing a little more this offseason.

In my heart I know there are reasons that everything happens, and while I’m just now starting to process the 2023 season and its result, I know I have to do more to make the changes necessary to improve. I’m not quite sure what that looks like, whether I fish more events, or spend more time on the water working on my skills and decision making is yet to be determined.

But I am determined to improve and make a difference in how I perform. I’m grateful I get to do this job for a living, and thankful for everyone who helps me do it, but I know I want to improve, and that process will start now.