Plans for the offseason

With the 2021 Elite season behind me, my year has shifted to focusing more on my typical law work and attending to a tremendous amount of home improvement projects.

Even though having a break from the Elite schedule was nice for a little while, after three to four weeks, I was already wishing I had another Elite event. We all love that competitive scene, so you definitely start to miss it.

My tournament boat has been sold and I won’t have my new one for a few months, but I’ll be doing some local fishing with friends. Unplugging from the bass fishing scene for a while is good, so I plan on fishing for crappie this winter on the Chickahominy River and other local waters. 

I’ll also be spending a lot of time working on my tackle. For one thing, I need to trim down a little by selling some of my collection at a local flea market.

I know this is a necessary move, but it’s tough deciding what to let go. When I used to fish locally, I could fish out of two tackle trays. Now I have to be prepared to fish from shallow Florida lakes to smallmouth in South Dakota to deep cranking on Lake Fork.

What I’ll try to do is segregate things by seasonal and regional needs. For example, the first two Elites will be in Florida, so I’ll use a lot of the same tackle at those events. Santee-Cooper will be similar — probably a shallow postspawn tournament.

I think soft plastics will play heavily in the first few and across the season so I’ll have a lot of Missile Baits packed in my boxes.

I’m particularly motivated to undertake this organizational effort given the lackluster season I had. Fortunately the Bassmaster Classic was my best finish, but there were a lot of missed opportunities, so I’m ready for some redemption. 

When you’re dealing with the Elite series, there’s a pretty fine margin between doing pretty good and pretty bad. It usually comes down to one fish the first two days. In my case, I can go back to almost every tournament and see a particular fish that cost me. 

At the first tournament on the St. Johns River, I had one on a Missile Baits 48 with an open hook, and it came off. I lost two, including a 4-pounder, at the Sabine River that were catastrophic because losing big fish on the Sabine — that’s the end of the world.

I lost some on a Carolina rig. Who loses them on a Carolina Rig? I lost two on Neely Henry on frogs; I jammed them and had them coming to me and they got off.

I think I have some holes in my game, but I think I know how to fix them. It’s going to be important to do so, because I think the 2022 season can shape up really well for me.

While I’m preparing for my tackle, I’ll be including a lot of my creations. I still build baits and tinker with baits so I’ll tie a bunch of hooks with keepers and make several swimbaits and swim jigs. 

I’ll try not to overdo it because I really want to be very trimmed down and organized for next year.