Slow start. Sophomore slump. Just a couple phrases one may label what has happened in the first two events of my second Elite Series season. However, I’m not going to play up any of those. The truth of the matter is, fishing is one of the most up and down sports imaginable. The margin for error is sometimes so small you would be hard-pressed to see it under a microscope.
My personal opinion is there are no excuses. You can spend time talking publicly about lost fish, broken lines, this, that and the other thing, but at the end of the day, how is that productive? How is that going to change anything or help you move forward?
I firmly believe we learn more in tough times than when it’s just going on smoothly. It drives us to grow. At least it can. It provides the opportunity.
Victories and success can hurt you if you allow them to. While it often creates more confidence, on the flip side it can also create arrogance. It tells us we don’t need to work as hard. That we’re just better. I can promise you, if you have any degree of success, it’s something you will experience to some extent. None of us are immune to it.
The amount of work I’m putting in has not changed. The level of preparation is still the same. The decision making is still the same. For some reason, it just hasn’t shown successful results this season yet. Something I had done in the past when the results weren’t where I wanted them to be would be to push harder — press. This is also never productive.
I’m going to use an example from baseball since my title sponsor is DuraEdge Products, a manufacturer of engineered infield mixes (essentially the soil/dirt) for baseball and softball fields. You see a guy in a hitting slump swinging harder, trying to hit a home run every at bat. Nine times out of 10, he just continues to strike out and get deeper into a “slump.” Usually, what it takes is as simple as going back to the basics. Focusing on his hitting mechanics, working the counts and getting productive at bats every time at the dish.
I have learned this principle, albeit by being hardheaded at times. I’m not changing anything drastic. I will not press as I have in the past. I’ll continue to handle my business, tweak some small details in the periphery and get back to business with a clear mind at Pickwick, regardless of the outcome.
Many older and wiser anglers and mentors have told me: It’s just fishing. It’s fun. As a younger man, it can be hard to truly grasp the simple wisdom in those words.
If you see every day out fishing a tournament as just another day enjoying what you love to do, it takes you back to being a little kid casting the banks without a care in the world. I’m ever grateful to be living my childhood dream of fishing on the Bassmaster Elite Series.