It seems like we always hear about patterning bass or finding the right spots. It’s like finding bass is the way to win in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. But for me it’s really all about that one fish, the one that clues you in to what’s going on and puts you on the right path — fishing wise and mentally.
Last week in the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge is a perfect example of what I’m saying. I dodged the bullet when I caught one good bass on the second day that weighed 5 pounds. That fish was so important to me that I didn’t flip it into the boat. I knew it was hooked good so I just brought it to the gunnel and landed it by hand.
She was a real gift. I mistakenly thought that the weights would be way down. They were not. I knew I was in trouble to make the first cut after I saw what our guys brought in the first day. That one fish let me get some points and earn a check. She changed my tournament from a disaster into something I can live with.
That got me to thinking. Over the course of my career there have been countless things like that happen to me. It’s that one good fish that changes everything. Sometimes — most of the time, really — it’s because she gives you the details of what you need to know to catch the bigger fish, the ones that keep you competitive.
But those details also change your mindset because they give you confidence and reassurance. That’s what you need to win or to finish high.
It’s a funny thing but finishing at the top is really easier than struggling at the bottom. There’s less pressure on you because you know it’s going to happen. There’s no doubt about that in your mind. Youknow you’re in control of yourself and in control of the things you can control, and you know everything else will fall into line.
We all understand that at this level most of winning and losing is about decision making. Everyone fishing the Elites can fish at a high level. If they couldn’t, they wouldn’t be here. Good decisions feed on themselves. Bad decisions feed on themselves. The deal is, though, the bad decisions seem to disappear after you catch that one good fish.
Being honest with everyone, things didn’t fall into line for me on Lake Martin in the sense that I was in the hunt to win. I was never in that group. However, they did fall into line for me in another sense. I was able to catch a limit after that and even cull a fish or two. And I did that relaxed and with a smile on my face thanks to that one good fish.
However, catching that one good fish is never a given. Sometimes it’s as much luck as it is skill. Experience teaches us how to find the best places and how to make the fish bite. But that doesn’t mean the one that’s there will be the one you need.
The more I think about it I’m not sure that you can control that. Maybe it happens, maybe not.
We’ll talk some more about this next time.
Editors note: Read part 2 here.