My victory at the Simms Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork still hasn’t hit me. Obviously it is huge. I have now won two on my home lake, and I have two other Bassmaster trophies in the last three years away from home where I have zero knowledge. It helps my confidence as an angler that I can continue to win on this level.
All it does is make me want to win more. It makes me want to go out there and catch them even better at every event. All I am thinking about is where I am going to win again.
Everybody has seen me win my other three Bassmaster trophies in shallow water by power fishing with swimbaits, frogs and using a topwater. When I’m fishing in Texas and guiding on Lake Fork, I’m fishing offshore. So it felt good to win one offshore finally by utilizing my graphs and those baits, techniques and angles.
Winning the Ross Barnett Open was huge for me coming into Fork. It had to have calmed me down, and knowing I had qualified for the Bassmaster Classic, allowed me to look at off-the-wall stuff and things I was confident in.
This week was kind of weird. I had all these preconceived notions in my head about where I was going to catch them and that didn’t pan out. I caught a lot of fish the first two days on stuff where I caught fish before, but not how I’m used to catching them in that mid-depth range. Then the final two days I caught every bass but one off a spot I had never caught a fish off before and had never looked at before.
The first day of practice there was a big tournament going on, and we had all of our guys out there, so I kind of looked for off-the-wall stuff and stayed out of everybody’s way. I didn’t want to give anything away I thought was going to be good, and I knew I couldn’t fit on a lot of stuff that was good. I went looking with my Humminbird Mega-Side imaging and Down Scan and found a little high spot with a little clearing in the timber that was about 30 by 30. I saw some fish right on the side of a tree, and it looked perfect. It almost looked too perfect.
I was very surprised it worked out. I struggled a lot. The first two days I had my big bags really quickly. I got to go looking all afternoon and even the third day I had them pretty early. I went and looked all afternoon at this great offshore structure that I know and ran every spot I could fit in on that I know they pull up fresh on. I thought I needed a fresh group of bass to win. I probably had 30 groups located in practice, and they either disappeared or there was a boat on them. I got to look all three days, and I never found a fresh group of fish.
The second day I found a school of white bass that I didn’t catch anything out of, but the third day I caught an 8-2 out of that spot. That was the only other spot I weighed a fish besides where I did every day.
It felt like I struggled and I did the last day, but at the end of the day it was crazy I still won by more than 10 pounds. I learned, by not finding anything, that I needed to make the most of my morning stuff and my one other spot.
Landing those two fish that got me hung up in the timber on Day 2 was definitely huge as well. It was crazy how long those fish stayed hung up with a treble hook bait and that light of line. Earlier in my career, I probably would have broken those fish off very quickly wanting to get back in there. That was huge for me that day. It gave me a big lead going into the third day.
It was cool how it worked out. It didn’t go as I imagined, but it was one of things that if it was meant to be, it’s meant to be. And it happened.
One of the most helpful things this week was having that crowd out there and having my family and friends with me and supporting me along with my sponsors and fans. That entourage of boats following me around the lake with air horns, cheering and music made me want to win really badly, and not just for me.
People are calling me the “People’s Champion” because I want to win a trophy for all the fans out there too. That really helped me, and it felt good to win in front of all of those people and everyone that supports me.
Pickwick is going to be won like I won at Lake Fork for sure. I don’t have the knowledge over there and it will be a lot of looking. I am going to put my work in daylight to dark, and it will be right up my alley.
Next week definitely intrigues me regarding what could happen. I’m excited to get over there and put the time in behind the wheel.