Learning the hard way on St. Johns

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James Overstreet

Jordan Lee (9th, 67-3)

The first tournament of the year is over. It was pretty cool to see Rick Clunn win like that. I can’t say I watched his career as it developed. I couldn’t. He won his first event before I was born, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t read all about him and heard the stories, or that I’m not a fan.

The history of our sport, and the legends who helped it develop into what it is today, should be a part of all of us. Our good fortune is because of them. I’m glad I was there to see his win. It’s something I’ll always remember.

As far as my tournament is concerned, I can say I made one good decision and one bad decision. The good one was moving when I wasn’t catching the weight I needed.

I fished a community hole the first day and did pretty good. But on the second day it wasn’t producing for me. Instead of trying to get them to bite where I was, I moved to another area. On the third day I moved again. I moved a third time on the last day.

The lesson from that series of moves is that you’ve got to move if you’re not catching what you need. Staying in an area, switching lures or techniques and hoping for the best is not going to get it. You can’t be afraid to crank up the big motor.

The bad decision, and one I should have known not to make, is not having my tackle properly prepared. On the last day I fished a Devil’s Horse. I don’t know much about how to fish them but I knew enough to know that mine had the wrong hooks on it. They were too light for the size fish we were catching. I didn’t have any tools with me to change them so I went ahead and fished with it the way it was.

That was a bad move. I hooked a big one but straightened out the hooks. That was a mistake that could have been easily avoided.

Never fear, however. I had another one with me. It had heavier hooks on it so I decided to fish it. That might have worked if I’d taken the time to tie a 20-pound-test monofilament leader to my braid instead of the 15-pound-test I already had on.

That was another bad move. I hooked another good one. During the fight I put pressure on her. My line broke, not the knot but the line itself. That was another mistake that could have been easily avoided.

You hear over and over again that it’s the little things that make a difference. I proved to myself, to recreational anglers and to the fans that that’s true. You can’t go out there and mess around. You have to think about what you’re doing and be prepared for what’s coming.

I knew the fish we were going to catch were big. That wasn’t a surprise or a secret. I should have prepared for that. I didn’t. I paid the price.