Don't fight your gut

Last year was tough. I tried to fish the way I thought I should instead of fishing to my strengths. I turned that around this year, and it shows. It was a real thrill to win the 2020 NOCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville.

I want to talk a little about fishing from your gut. That’s how I put this thing together. It’s an important subject that every angler should spend some time thinking about.  

As I was heading up the lake that final day I passed a bank with some grass on it. I’d seen it every day of the tournament but hadn’t bothered to fish it. I had fish located elsewhere that needed to be caught. But I also noticed that no one else had fished it, either. It was just there. 

My gut told me to turn the boat around and give it a few casts. I can’t say specifically why I felt that way, but I have enough experience to know that it’s a mistake more often than not to fight your gut. So I turned my boat and started fishing it. I caught a 5-pounder. There would have been no win without her.  

The mistake a lot of anglers make is they won’t turn their boat to fish something they see that looks productive because they have somewhere else to fish. They think they need to hurry to their other spot before the fish stop biting. But that isn’t always the case. If you spend any time on the water at all, you should know yourself and your instincts. And you should trust them.

I don’t mean to sound like I know everything or that I’m some kind of know-it-all. I’m not — my performance last year proves that. However, I do know what works for me, and I’ve studied the careers of the great professional bass anglers. They all talk about their gut, what it tells them and how important it is to follow it.

If I’m honest about things, I’d say that after the third day I knew that I had a pretty good shot at a win. I was catching fish. I knew I needed at least 18 pounds, and 19 would have been a lot better. As it turned out I caught just over 18 pounds. I was disappointed at the weigh-in. I thought I was one 4-pounder short of what I needed. But that wasn’t the case.      

The other thing I want to be sure to say is to tell my wife, daughter and son-in-law thanks for coming the final day. They drove 14 hours and to get to the ramp about 30 minutes before we launched. They didn’t get much notice, either. All they had was a phone call from me the night after the third day. 

My daughter just had a baby, too. What a trooper. They had to drive all night so my son-in-law traveled with them. He’s retired military. That made me feel better. What he did mattered a lot to me. I didn’t like the idea of two women and a baby traveling across several states in the middle of the night by themselves.

Professional bass fishing and family: I love them both!