Time to turn things around

Joey Cifuentes

I’ll be honest, I’ve been thinking about my start to the 2024 Bassmaster Elite Season season a lot, and I don’t mind saying it’s been tough.

I made the check cut in the first event of the year at Toledo Bend Reservoir, but after that, it’s been a very disheartening road. I know that winning two events and Rookie of the Year in 2023 did not guarantee me anything for this season, but the disappointment has been hard to handle.

That’s the thing with bass fishing — you can be the best in the world, and you can be dead last in a tournament. It’s not like any other sport; there’s so much you can’t control.

The key, I believe, is not allowing yourself to get negative. My dad and everybody has been telling me there are highs and lows, and then you come back. You ride that wave and then you get back on track.

You just have to keep plugging away.

That’s so much more important than you may realize because this game is so mental. When you get on a bad streak and start second guessing yourself, a lot can go wrong.

What’s really hard to understand is I feel like I’m in a good place in my career. My sponsorships are better than they’ve ever been, and I feel like last year I proved I can compete at this level.

I felt good about the new season, but along with the success, I have so much more attention from fans and the companies that support me. I’m very appreciative for all that attention, but I think I’ve put a lot more pressure on myself because I don’t want to let anyone down.

Going into the year, I think everyone had high expectations for me — and I had high expectations for myself. But even though I know everyone understands this sport has its ups and downs, there’s been a lot of additional pressure to do well for everyone.

I also think I may have been trying to fish this year the way I fished the tournaments I won last year. At Lake Seminole and Lake St. Clair, I found something off the wall, so maybe I’ve been looking too hard for that. Maybe I need to get back to a fundamental approach to my fishing.

The good thing is our next Elite at Lake Murray is the midpoint of the season. I still have time to turn things around and salvage the year.

This lull I’ve experienced won’t last forever and knowing that helps me maintain my focus. I’m going to treat Murray like it’s the first tournament of the season. I’m going to reset the year and focus on making good decisions.

When you’re going through a tough time, it’s important to put the past behind you and refresh your mind.

At the end of the day, it’s just fishing. This is my career and I am very competitive, so I don’t want to let anyone down. But at the same time, keeping everything in perspective is important.

I mean, I get to fish the Bassmaster Elites for a living, and I’m very grateful for that. But more importantly, I have many great blessings in my life, and my family is at the top of the list.

That’s what keeps me going.