The roller coaster

For many of us, the “highs” of tournament competition are what makes competing in bass tournaments so fun. No matter what level we’re fishing, we want to catch big fish and beat our buddies. When the plan comes together and we win, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. 

Fish enough and you’re going to experience the lows, when the plan does not come together and you fail to catch a limit. It's the way it is.

At the recent Bassmaster Elite Series event at Lake Lanier, a tournament that I looked forward to for months because I really, really enjoy fishing for big spotted bass, I experienced the whole roller-coaster ride of emotions. 

The fishing during the practice was tougher than I thought it would be after past experiences at Lanier. Fortunately, I was catching quality fish so I was confident heading into the tournament that I would have a good event. 

The plan worked to perfection on Day 1 when I put together the best catch of the day (19-2) and led the event.  After a tough first event at the St. John’s River, it felt great to be on top of the leaderboard. I received a bunch of messages from friends all over North America wishing me well the rest of the weekend, all appreciated!  

Heading out for Day 2, I was confident I could survive the next couple days and have a good shot at making the Top 10. I enjoy fishing Lanier and felt good about what I was doing. I started out my day fishing several deep spots that produced fish in practice and on Day 1, but didn’t connect with any fish. After a couple hours I decided to fish shallower with a jerkbait and at least get a limit. A couple hours later, that plan was a fail as well. 

By midday the pressure was mounting and now instead of worrying about catching 3- and 4-pounders I simply wanted to catch a bass so that I could weigh-in. I could not believe that on this lake, of all lakes, that I was having a hard time catching a limit. Even until late in the day I still felt like I would put something together, but it did not happen. Two fish, 5 pounds. Not good. At the time I felt like I let down my friends, family, fans and sponsors. It was not fun.

After everything was over I had to accept the fact that it was only a day of fishing. Everybody has tough days, and in the big picture, everything would be fine. On to the next one.