Leaving the rods at home

I’ll be headed to the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees soon to practice before the cutoff date for next March’s Bassmaster Classic.

This time, I’m leaving the rods and tackle at home. That’s right; the only things in my boat will be safety equipment, maybe a few snacks, tools and a pair of binoculars.

This marks my 18th Bassmaster Classic. I don’t always do the Classic pre-practice thing, and when I have, I’ve always taken tackle and done a little fishing.

Not this time. I’ll only be there for two days and will spend all of that time idling, graphing, looking. I’ve been to Grand quite a few times over the years, but I’ve never taken the time to really look at it in its entirety. I don’t feel like I know enough about the lake to be fully prepared when competition begins.

This will keep me more efficient and focused while scanning with my Lowrance Electronics. Most of the time will be at the console, but I might use the ActiveTarget 2 forward-facing sonar to scan for brushpiles. I’ll look carefully at some of the stuff where I’ve caught them in the past, but I intend to get a detailed look at areas where I’m less familiar.

This is unusual for me. I’ve had a lot of success just showing up for a tournament and going fishing. I’m good at that, and it seems I do better under pressure by fishing tournaments that way.

But I’ve decided to treat this one differently because I have never won a Classic and need to change the process. I have won just about everything in bass fishing, and a Classic win would seal the deal.

I’ve made the conscious decision to start practicing for tournaments with more diligence, the same way I stalk and hunt a giant deer. When I go deer hunting, it’s serious; so serious that my wife wonders if there is something wrong with me.

The fact I killed the biggest buck I’ve ever shot with a bow this year will allow me to remain totally focused on the Classic practice. When I’ve pre-practiced in year’s past, that deer hunting thing has always been on my mind.

This time it will be like a celebration; I’ll ride around with a cup of coffee, looking at my graphs and the shoreline and focus everything on Classic preparation. I will make notes on bushes and rocky areas I see above the waterline in case the lake is high when we get there for competition.

This added knowledge will make the three-day practice during Classic week a lot more efficient. Everything will be fresh in my mind, and regardless what the weather does, I will have a fresh approach and not be thinking about previous experiences on the lake. I’ll treat this like a new lake that I have never visited. I love new lake adventures. That’s what gets me excited.

Why only two days of pre-practice? Because I’m goal oriented and that will keep me focused on the job at hand. If I spent more time, I’d probably buckle, head to the nearest Academy store and wind up buying tackle to go fishing.

My goal is to win this Classic.

I’m due.

I’m going all out to make it happen.