Tough finish for 2022

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 27 years of tournament fishing it’s this: You will never improve a bad day by getting mad. No matter what has happened, no matter how things are going, you just aren’t going to turn things around with negative responses.

This is a truth that I had to embrace after a tough finish on Lake Oahe.

I called this fishery “the lake of the unknown” because I wasn’t sure what to expect there or how the lake fishes. What I learned there — and this was reflected in the coverage — was that certain sections of the river played. 

You had to be in the right section, and it looked like most of the anglers who made the cut were in about a 20-mile stretch. Lesson learned.

In a scenario like that you have to fish a lot of water and find a productive area, but I kind of missed that. I thought I had something good going, but I didn’t.

In practice, I focused a little too much on what I was doing, and I should have expanded more. I knew there would be a deeper bite and a Carolina rig bite, but I didn’t focus on that enough in practice. I kinda just ran out of time.

Now, here’s the part that really demands mental discipline: I believe I’m actually fishing good this year, in terms of finding quality fish and getting bites.

Throughout my career, I’ve seen plenty of times when you have a bad tournament because you didn’t figure it out, you missed what was in front of you and you just didn’t find anything.

That hasn’t been the case, so I’m good with my confidence in making good decisions on the water.

You look at the points and look at where I’m at in the season with some of the finishes that I’ve had, and from the outside looking in, it’s easy to say: “Aww man, he’s had a tough time.”

The problem is my execution is bad. I’m not going to make excuses, but I’m losing a lot of fish. Things have not gone my way — in a big way.

People might say you need to change your hooks or other things, but I don’t think it’s necessarily anything I’m doing. It’s just the way the cards are falling right now.

It started with that big fish I lost on camera in Lake Apopka during the Elite on the Harris Chain, and it has continued through the season. Everybody loses fish, but I’ve lost an exceptional number of fish this year.

I’ve tried to manage the frustration, but I’ll admit, on the first day at Oahe, I found myself breaking my own rule. I was getting mad. I had a very frustrating day, and I let it get the best of me.

But I turned to my Marshal and said: “This is stupid. I have to snap out of it because I’ve never gotten mad and then started catching them better.”

About that time, I was mad, and I lost a 4-pounder. I was physically shaking I was so upset.

I lost some fish on Day 2, but I didn’t get mad. I just kept moving and doing my thing. You gotta keep your emotions under control.

I can look back at every event and see a couple of key fish that I did not execute well on. But I’m going to execute well this week in the final Elite event on the Mississippi River. I’m going to put everything in the boat and have a good week.