Needed northern redemption

I don’t mind talking about my failures. Everyone has them but in our social media edited world, we all only post and talk about our successes. It can make us think that people we admire or follow only do amazing things. 

The obstacles we face motivate me. I view them as opportunities, not failures. In that context I’m often asked about what lake I want to fish the most. My answer: The last lake that whooped me. In 2020 there were two lakes that got me. 

My 2020 season started great. Then the pandemic hit — our country and my season. The truth is I really sucked once we got back to some semblance of normal competition. I barely missed the Day 3 cut at Eufaula. And then we headed to Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. They are two of the best northern fisheries you could ever ask to fish. I finished 82nd and 84th respectively. That was a disaster, and there was no good reason for it. I know both fisheries very well. 

True, I’ve had mixed success in the past with no Top 10 finishes on either one. There’s no reason to relive the details. I didn’t have mechanical failures or equipment issues. My line, rods, reels and baits all worked fine. I didn’t have Humminbird 360 or any forward facing sonar electronics, but that wasn’t the reason I did terrible.  This is a mental game, and I wasn’t in the groove. 

That was then. This is now.

We are fishing the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain a month earlier than last year. I’ve fished Champlain in July before. Even though the water is about the same level as last year, the largemouth should play a little bigger role than in 2020. My different approach will be to power fish a little more and fish a large part of the lake that I didn’t last time. This will help me keep an open mind and make it feel like a new body of water. 

As far as the 2021 Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River is concerned, we’re going out of Waddington, N.Y. There will be the temptation for many anglers to run back down between Clayton and Lake Ontario where the guys crushed them last year. 

I don’t have any temptation to see that water again. I’ll stay in the Alex Bay to Waddington section that I’ve fished so many times in the past. I’m not going to commit to fishing shallow or deep, but I will try to power fish a little more than in the past. 

The final goal of all this is a slot in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at Lake Hartwell. I’m currently in 21st place in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings with two events to go. Making the Day 3 cut on Champlain should lock me in mathematically. My goal, though, is to make both Day 3 cuts in New York and make at least one Top 10 cut. 

There is one other thing that’s different on this northern redemption swing, and it’s maybe the most important — focus! 

Since the last day on Guntersville in May, the only thing I have been thinking about fishing wise are the two New York tournaments. But, at the same time too much prep can fill your head with a ton of crap. As much as I’ve prepared for these two tournaments, I’m not picturing how I’m going to catch my fish at either event. For me, that is a good thing. I’m not going to force anything. I’ll try my best to let the fish tell me what they want. If that happens, the results should be fine.