First and foremost, let me say I support the decision B.A.S.S. officials made to postpone the Huk Bassmaster Elite at Upper Chesapeake Bay presented by Mossy Oak Fishing. That’s their job, to guard the safety of the anglers and Marshals, and I stand by B.A.S.S.
My job is to fish. And I would have enjoyed competing in the ugly conditions we were facing on Chesapeake Bay. I was one of probably several guys who planned on fishing the Susquehanna Flats area. In practice I put every egg in that basket. It might have been unfishable by the time the tournament started.
I would have adjusted and found another place to catch a bass. Chesapeake Bay is huge. I may or may not have found another spot. But that’s one of the thrills of tournament competition for me – making a decision and adjusting on the fly.
And I like these kinds of tournaments. I think they can be easier to win. Look at what it did to the local anglers. No one had any previous experience fishing Chesapeake Bay in those conditions. It was definitely an advantage for me if it took less weight than usual to win.
I’ve got a good example of the good and bad that can happen in adverse tournament conditions. It occurred at a Central Open on the Atchafalaya Basin in 2009. The river was high and muddy. I chose to run 100 miles to avoid the flooded area near Morgan City and found the winning fish. This would end up being a four-day Open. I had to beat Mark Smith of West Monroe, La., in a fish-off after we tied at the final weigh-in. That was the “good,” of course.
The “bad” was what almost happened to me and did happen to a pair of guys in a boat behind me. There were several of us coming out of a lock. There was a big piece of wood floating down the river. It looked like a railroad tie. Only about a half-inch of it was above the surface. I saw it at the very last instant and missed it. The boat behind me didn’t. It spun them around in a complete 360 and threw both guys out of the boat. I turned around and helped get them out of the water. They were okay, but their day was done.
I’ve thought about that several times. I was probably about 12 inches away from knocking my lower unit off and being done for the tournament. Instead, I ended up winning it.
I’m currently 42nd in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points. I need all the events I can get to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. This Chesapeake Bay event was perfect for me because it was going to shake things up.
As a competitive angler, I always want to fish – no matter the conditions. But I understand the decision to postpone the Chesapeake Bay tournament, and I stand behind it. Those decisions are best left to less competitive heads than mine.