Momentum and a Century Club belt

In one of my previous columns, I mentioned the importance of a fast start on the Bassmaster Elite Series to get my mind right for the rest of the season. It doesn’t always work out that way, but thankfully, it has this year.

I put together good game plans for the first two Elite tournaments on Toledo Bend Reservoir and Lake Fork. Although I had a few missed opportunities, everything came together pretty much flawlessly.

I got off to a great start by finishing 15th at Toledo Bend with a total weight of 58 pounds, 2 ounces. I fished mainly open water and standing timber offshore with Lowrance ActiveTarget Live forward-facing sonar.

My primary bait was a Yum FF Sonar Minnow fixed on a shad-style jighead. The key was having that bait rigged on four different size jigs from 1/8- to 1/2-ounce. That let me target fish from the surface down to 40 feet.

My confidence was high when I drove to the next event at Lake Fork. I was excited to get on the water. That mood abated somewhat due to a tougher practice than I would have liked. Even so, I headed out the first tournament day self-assured that I would do well.

I far exceeded my expectations by sacking the heaviest limit I’ve ever caught — 37-6. All of my bass that day were shallow and bank related. A vibrating jig and a wacky-rigged Yum Dinger produced most of the bass. I also caught a 9-pounder off a bed.

I struggled to catch fish the same way on Day 2 and boated a 19-4 limit. I caught four bass shallow and a 6-pounder late in the day 20 feet deep on a jig and Sonar Minnow. That bass saved the tournament for me.

I transitioned to fishing with forward-facing sonar on the third and fourth days. It proved a wise move. A jerkbait and a wacky-rigged Dinger loaded my livewell on Day 3 with another incredible limit that went 35-13. I sacked 24-5 on the last day, which brought my total to 117-11.

I finished sixth and earned my first Century Club belt. It took a few days for my hands to heal after that one.

My mindset after the first two Elite Series events couldn’t be better. I need to keep that momentum going. It’s a huge factor that could help me accomplish things every bass angler dreams of.