Knowing when to start over

There’s no question that professional fishing is full of ups and downs. I’ve seen more downs than ups this season, but I believe the key to success is learning from the low points — not dwelling on them.

As far as this season’s performance, I’d grade myself with a C- because my finishes have been below average for what I think I can do. I can’t put my finger on exactly why that is, but compared to what I did last year — three top 20s (two of them Top 10s), third in Rookie of the Year, 13th in Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year — it’s been disappointing.

It seems like it’s often been a case of a few little things not going my way and instead of making the cut, I have a terrible finish. Along those lines, I’ve struggled with consistency and that has been frustrating, because I’ve had some good starts this year, but I haven’t been able to keep it going.

The recent Elite event on Wheeler Lake was a good example. I placed ninth on Day 1, but I ended up 62nd. I had a similar experience at the previous Elite at Lake Murray when I caught 18-7 on Day 1 and placed 29th, but I only caught a little over half that the second day and I slipped to 66th.

I think a lot of that is me not making good decisions and not adjusting when it was necessary. Many times I’d find something that was working, but when it stopped working, I needed to bail on it and start over.

That’s been a difficult decision because, this year, a lot of my practices have been so tough. When I get on something good, it was the only thing I had, so I have been stubborn about letting it go.

I see now that I have to get better at knowing when I’ve given it a good shot, even if I caught them good the previous day, and be willing to adapt to a different day’s conditions. That’s been hard for me — to abandon what I’m doing and start fresh, but I know that’s something I need to work on.

On the upside, after my worst finish in the season opener at Toledo Bend Reservoir, I’ve made the check cut at every other Elite event. That’s the thing I’m taking away from this season — you have to find positives when you struggle.

I’m also taking into consideration that it’s always the toughest events I grow the most from. That Toledo Bend finish really hit me, and it made me realize I really have a lot to work on. It was an eye-opener, and I’ve taken it as a reminder that you cannot coast against these guys.

You don’t learn as much from the ones you do good at; you learn from the ones where you struggle. That was the turning point for me.

I’ve been close several times this year. A few things go my way and I have a totally different season.

I’ve had some slumps before, but I’ve learned you can’t overthink it and overanalyze it. What I‘ve found is the best thing to do is to stay positive and fish through that slump.

One good cast and you change your momentum. I know I’m close and if I just stay positive I know I’ll break thought it.