It’s funny, you know, but I’m not at all upset after last week’s tournament on the Winyah Bay. I finished lower than I wanted but, other than that, I did everything I wanted to without any problems. I fished clean, didn’t make any mistakes and moved around the way I wanted. It’s hard to complain about that.
My prefishing was relatively close. I didn’t want to make the run to the Cooper River. I figured that if I could catch what I did in prefishing by staying close I’d be able to finish around 15th or 16th. To give you an idea of how close I fished this tournament I burned 30 gallons of gas the first day, seven gallons the second day and five gallons the third day.
Normally that wouldn’t be my goal, but given the amount of water we had to fish and the fact that I didn’t know a thing about the place, I thought I could live with it. In my mind it was a matter of getting through this one.
And, in the back of my mind was the danger in making a long run. I had a bad experience with one in another tournament. It cost me dearly. I’ll never forget it.
Here’s the deal: We were fishing the Sabine River. I made a 119 mile run, one way, to my fish. I caught them pretty good the first day and didn’t have any problems so I decided to do the same thing the next day. I was in the first flight so I had an early check-in time.
I caught three bass, pretty good ones for the Sabine River. They would have allowed me to make the cut and fish the next day. But, when I started back my water pump failed. The guys who were in my flight had already left. The only ride I could get back put me so late that my fish didn’t count.
At the time I didn’t think much about it. It was just one day in one tournament. When the year ended, however, I was just a few points short of qualifying for the Classic. Now you can say that I could have caught another fish or two over the next seven tournaments. That’s true. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I’d have gotten back that second day on the Sabine River, I would have qualified.
I’m a lot more careful now. The Elite Series is just that — a series. We have two tournaments coming up in the next three weeks. I don’t need mechanical trouble. The thing about that is that sometimes you have delayed mortality. Maybe you damage something but it doesn’t show up right away. Then maybe you’re in a position to win later on in another tournament and…
There’s no doubt in my mind that I have the best equipment made. I trust it in every respect. Regardless, you can break anything if you put it through enough stress and abuse. I wasn’t going to take that chance.
Next week we’ll talk about fishing mats. Mark Hilger asked about that, and I’m glad he did. It’s a subject worth exploring.