If I said I was disappointed with my performance at the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks & Wildlife Department tournament, I’d be putting lipstick on a pig. It was worse than that, much worse. I’ll tell you why.
Texas has always been a good state for me. In fact, I’d call it my best state. So finishing 68th with less than 22 pounds hurts, especially considering that I had high hopes going into it.
Over the course of my career with B.A.S.S. I’ve had 17 Top 10 finishes at the professional level. Four of them were in the state of Texas. And one of my two wins was at the 2009 Elite Series Battle on the Border on Lake Amistad.
And, I managed to hurt myself in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. I’m on the bubble to qualify for the 50th Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. That's not where I want to be at this point in the season.
I suppose the lesson in all of it is that there are no guarantees in bass fishing. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things don’t go your way.
It’d be nice if I had a reason for what happened, or even an excuse. I don’t. I never caught them. It wasn’t that I lost a few good ones or that my execution was off or anything like that. Nothing distracted me; nothing got in my way. I was just never around them. It was the wrong area at the wrong time, and I guess I was fishing with the wrong lure.
Here’s what I’ve thought about since that event: Things like that happen. They happen to new anglers, experienced recreational anglers, experienced tournament anglers and professionals fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series. That is not a justification or an excuse for my performance. It’s a fact.
There’s nothing fancy about what I’m saying. It really is that simple. We think we know things about bass, and we do know some things. But we don’t know everything. Even worse we don’t know what we don’t know.
If I knew what I did wrong, I could correct it. But I don’t and so I’m in the dark like hundreds of other bass anglers who go fishing expecting to catch them and then they don’t. All I can do is go home, enjoy my family and point my truck and boat towards the next tournament.
When I think about that next tournament, and the ones after it, I’m excited. Who wouldn’t want to catch giant largemouth at Lake Guntersville, or giant smallmouth in the St. Lawrence River? And then there’s the mix of green and brown bass at Cayuga Lake along with the last one at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma.
I don’t know much about Fort Gibson Lake, or Oklahoma for that matter, but maybe that’s a good thing. Knowing Texas didn’t work out so well for me this year.
Here’s the thing, fellow anglers: If you go fishing on your favorite lake when the weather is great and you don’t catch very many — and the ones you do catch are smaller than average — don’t despair. It happens to all of us. Tomorrow is another day.