Why this win was different

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James Overstreet

Wow! The thrill of winning an Elite event on Lake Guntersville had barely sunk in and now Cayuga.

I’ll tell you, I dreamed of becoming an Elite angler, and I dreamed of winning an Elite tournament. But I never dreamed of winning two of these events in the same season. 

I think this one was a little different because it was in my home state of New York, and I was a little more familiar with Cayuga. I kinda knew those fish a little bit; knowing how finicky they can be and how they relate to grass in that lake, so that gave me a little more confidence. 

Winning on Cayuga was especially rewarding because that lake hasn’t always been good to me in the past. I’d have good practices and horrible tournaments because I didn’t understand what I was doing.

I was the guy who couldn’t put it together during a tournament because I didn’t change with the conditions. This time, I changed with the conditions, and it was very crucial.

What I did was totally abandon an area on Day 1 and put my confidence in another area because I believed that 1) I’d find fish and 2) the new area would replenish. It was definitely a patience game because I would go hours between bites knowing I was doing the right thing, but I just had to put it in front of one.

That area of the lake is no-man’s land because there’s no contour out there. It’s very difficult to stay in an area and fish slowly if you don’t have confidence in the area, but that’s what it took. 

I will say that, although it’s tough fishing around a spectator gallery, having so many fans out there watching me fish and cheering me on really made this a special experience. I saw a lot of familiar faces, and everyone was very respectful with spacing once I explained how I needed to fish the area.

Flash forward to the final day’s weigh-in, when I lifted my second Elite Series trophy. I think that moment made me realize that I finally have my mojo back. I feel like I have my head right like I did when I started in 2017.

After being sidelined in 2018 for medical reasons, I just needed to get back into the swing of things. I wanted it back so badly that it was just messing me up. I kept making bad decisions, and it just wasn’t clicking right away.

No, I have my head back in the game and that is so crucial in this game. Ninety percent of it is in your head.

What’s rewarding about these two wins is that they took place on very different fisheries. This takes me back to when I first started this game because I realized early just how diverse you have to be on all these different bodies of water.

I used to tape every bass fishing show and study everything possible. I’d see just how different all of the nation’s fisheries are and, in the back of my mind, I was like, “I have to know all of this?”

Yes, you do.

One of the questions I get asked a lot is “What is your favorite way to catch ‘em? What’s your strength?” My strength is the way those fish have to be caught that day — that’s my favorite way to catch them.