Driving home from a tournament is when I do a lot of thinking about the event in my rearview mirror. It’s a time for reflection and assessment — but never for beating a dead horse. In my business, it can be a challenge to stay positive, so one of my rules is that I can kick myself all the way home … but no further.
In evaluating my performance so far in 2017, I can tell you that Day 1 has been my Achilles heel. Instead of getting off to a good start and putting myself in position to win, I’m digging a hole that I have to get out of on Day 2. It makes for a challenging season.
In four of the five Elite tournaments so far this year, I’ve ended Day 1 in 66th place or worse. Fortunately, I’ve moved up on Day 2 each time and into the first cut at every event except one (I was 56th at Cherokee Lake). Then, I’ve had some solid Day 3s, where I’ve moved up a little bit more.
My season has been OK, but if I had some better first days it would be a lot better. If you’re fishing the Elite Series, you just can’t afford to give your competition any breaks. They’re too good.
At Sam Rayburn Reservoir, I think I had way too much history in my head when the tournament started. Like everyone else, I was catching a lot of fish but it was tough to figure out what the very best pattern was — the one that gives you a chance to win.
I like fishing a tournament by the seat of my pants, figuring things out as I go along and making the adjustments necessary to do well. I try to get myself plugged into what’s happening at the fishery and to go with the flow as the fishing changes with the conditions. That’s served me well in the past, but this year I wonder if I’m not getting “dialed-in” enough during practice.
I talked about that a little in my last column. I said that I usually don’t try to catch more than one or two bass in an area during practice and, as a result, I may not know a lot about what I really have with that area or pattern until the tournament starts.
My Day 1 issues this year have me wondering if maybe I need to stick more fish and get a lot better idea of the strength of an area and the size of the fish before competition starts. Maybe I’m trying to find too many different areas and patterns that could work rather than narrowing them down to just a few that should pay off based on a lot more information.
One thing I know for sure is that the competition is getting tougher and more talented every season. As each year goes by, the little adjustments that may seem minor become more and more important.
And I like that! I love that our sport is always changing, that you can’t go out there and do the same thing over and over and have the same success.
I may or may not have figured out something about my Day 1 issues this year, but I guarantee I’ll stay after it until the situation is fixed.