Well, that’s not the start I wanted

Two tournaments in to the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Series season, and I hoped for a better start.

I finished 67th at Toledo Bend Reservoir and 51st at Lake Fork, and I’ve got some work to do as we move ahead.

It could have been a worse start, but in my mind, it should have been better. I made some decisions I shouldn’t have made when I made them and put myself in a hole on Day 1 of the events that I had to climb out of. 

I had a really good bite going at Toledo Bend when the water was cold, and when it warmed up, they got tougher. I’m not exactly sure why. What I do know is my best bite started around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and I had an early check-in on Day 1. On Day 2, I had a later check-in time, and I got some better bites because of that.

Timing and rotation can be the biggest factors in tournament fishing, and I needed to do better on the first day. Every bite can make a difference, and an extra pound on a given day can mean several places higher in the standings.

At Lake Fork, I got dialed in to a typical Bill Lowen pattern. I had a good group of swim jig fish going, and I had a punching deal going in case the weather got cold. The temperature dropped 10 degrees overnight from the last day of practice to the first tournament day; so, I went to my backup plan. I had a voice in my head that kept telling me to go where the swim jig fish were, that they were better fish. I left, and it didn’t go like I thought. I weighed 17-3 and was somewhere way down in the standings.

I did what I should have done on the first day on Day 2. I picked up my Ark Invoker Tour punching rod and Gravity 7 reel, a 1-ounce Ark Tungsten weight and a NetBait BaitFuel B Bug on 65-pound Seaguar TactX 101 Braided line and weighed 25-2 to move up 30 places in the standings. I finished in 51st place.

I moved up a lot of places, but if I would have made the right decision on Day 1, I’m probably fishing on Day 3 of that event.

I can’t cry over spilt milk — and I won’t — but I’m just thinking out loud with you.

I guess I’d have to say that my brain feels a little like scrambled eggs right now. The technology out there right now is something I haven’t quite gotten a grasp of, but I know I am fishing for fish, and some of these guys are out there fishing at them.

But I’m going to go do what I can right now and not worry about things I can’t control. I’m going to go out there and fish like I always have — by the seat of my pants — and try to do the best I can do this season. My goal is to fish well enough to cash checks and make the 2025 Bassmaster Classic. After that, we’ll reevaluate everything and see what I need to do.

I just have to be — and fish like — me.