You better have thick skin

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James Overstreet

If you’re going to be a professional tournament bass angler, you’d better have thick skin. This business will humble you in a hurry. There’s no such thing as mercy out there. 

It’s the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge. I’m on top of the world. With over 48 pounds brought to the scales — a respectable weight on the Sabine — I’m the winner, and I have everything that goes with an Elite win. 

Now let’s go to the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River presented by Go RVing. I’ve brought less than 20 pounds to the scales over the first two days. Here I am, winner of the last Elite, and I’ve managed to nail down slot number 94. 

Everybody has a bad event, right? Tomorrow is another day. 

So now we’re out in South Dakota fishing the 2018 Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia. That one was better. I managed to finish 84th out there. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, though. I mean, I was only about 56 pounds away from catching Mark Daniels Jr.

What I just said is all real. In a matter of about a month I managed to go from the top to the bottom. It’s unbelievable, what bass fishing is like. All you guys who fish for fun should make note of this. It’s not about you, and it’s not about your world. It’s everybody and it’s everywhere. 

On the Mississippi River the water was rising but it stayed gin clear. Despite all my time fishing around the country I’d never seen that happen. Everywhere I can ever remember being when the water rises it gets a little more color to it. 

I dealt with it as best I could but didn’t get the job done. I watched the film of the top guys and realized that I should have been back in the trees farther.

On Lake Oahe the wind blew unbelievably hard, and the water I was fishing muddied up quickly. I thought the fish would stay somewhat shallow, and the numbers did. I think they did, anyway. I’d know more if I’d caught more of them.  

It wouldn’t have made any difference, though, because the better bass were out deep. There wasn’t as many of them but that doesn’t matter when you only need five a day. I should have been out deeper.

Every hour of every day is a learning experience when you bass fish. No two conditions are the same. If you ever think you know it all, you’ll soon find out you don’t. Bass fishing is pure in that regard.

If I’d know then what I know now things would have been different. But, you see, that’s the thing about bass fishing. It respects no man. 

The deal in my case is simple: Hindsight is better than foresight by a damn sight.

Next time we’re going to talk about why it’s hard to learn from a win in this business.