It has been a whirlwind of activity since my last Bassmaster Open tournament in Oklahoma for the 2021 season. I had so many emotions pent up before and during the tournament. It was a relief for it to finally be over, even though I fell just short in claiming a spot in the Bassmaster Elites for 2022.
Recently the weather wreaked havoc in and around my hometown of Union City, Tenn., with tornadoes and high winds. I felt blessed that my friends and family were safe but saddened by the destruction of homes and businesses throughout the western parts of Tennessee and Kentucky and nearby states. The storms brought damage to Cypress Point Resort on Reelfoot Lake including the marina and other facilities.
I experienced some loss of income from cancellations for my duck hunting and guiding service due to these storms, but I was extremely fortunate that my three blind sites for duck hunting were not damaged and blessed that most of my guiding commitments stayed with us. Guiding for duck hunting is my main source of income between the end of bass tournament season and the beginning of the new bass tournament season. I depend upon that income to support my tournament fishing and normal day-to-day expenses throughout the year.
I believe everything happens for a reason, so I will go into 2022 to write a new chapter in my professional bass fishing career. I take inspiration from Seth Feider from the Elite Series in 2021 where he won the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. He is an example of hard work and consistency taking someone to the top. Bassmaster.com has a great article about Seth and his journey to winning the AOY in 2021, and everyone should read it.
The first 2022 Bassmaster Opens series tournament is set for Feb. 3-5 at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in central Florida. This is a month earlier than the first 2021 Opens on the nearby Harris Chain of Lakes that ran from March 4-6 last year. I finished in 14th place in the first Opens last year, earned over $4000 and garnered a lot of Angler of the Year points. I hope to have an even better start this year.
How I approach this first 2022 tournament on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes will depend upon the weather conditions and how close the bass are to spawning. Colder weather in the second half of January could have the bass in a strong prespawn mode. Warmer weather in the same period could have the bass moving shallow in waves of big female bass.
The moon phase during the tournament will be transitioning from dark of the moon to first quarter so it may not have as much influence as a full moon would have. Based on the moon phase, I think weather will be the key determining influencer. I will spend my pre-tournament practice time checking the many cover options and water depths to try to find multiple areas with active bass.
If the bass are in one or more of the various grass cover options, I may focus on soft plastic Strike King lures such as the Rage Craw, Rodent and Cut-R Worm and pitch and flip them into the cover. If the bass are not yet in the spawning mode, I may target more open water areas with a Strike King KVD 1.5 squarebill crankbait or a Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait.
The Strike King Thunder Cricket vibrating jig may also play a part in my lure selections for the tournament as it is a terrific way to cover a lot of open water and attract feeding bass. The weather conditions just before and during the tournament and results from my practice time should allow me to fine tune my lure choices and retrieves to maximize my tournament time.