You hear it over and over again, but it’s true: A win against this level of competition validates your career. It’s not what other people think about you so much as it’s what you think about yourself, inside your own head. The word everybody uses is confidence. It’s a feeling that when things come together you can take advantage of the situation.
It’s important that you feel that way because things don’t come together all that often against this kind of competition. You have to take advantage of the opportunity. It seems like there’s always something that happens no matter how great things are going for you. It’s the nature of professional bass fishing.
I’ve watched a lot of other guys — most of them are my friends — win and I was glad for them. They worked hard and they deserved to win. They caught their fish fair and square. But, at the same time, you start thinking that maybe it should be your turn somewhere along the line.
This was my turn although the crazy thing was that I really didn’t think I had won. I didn’t see it coming. The last hour of the weigh-in on Sunday took five years off my life. I knew I was close but in my mind I thought I’d be a little short. My best guess was that I needed one more big fish to win the Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence presented by Black Velvet, but I didn’t.
It’s no exaggeration when I say I’ve never had a week of smallmouth fishing like last week. Never in my 29 years have I seen anything like what was happening on the St. Lawrence River. It was unbelievable.
I’ve caught numbers and I’ve caught size but I’ve never caught both for day after day. I’d say I caught between 15 and 20 keepers a day and many more short ones. What’s even more interesting about that is that it wasn’t like I found a honey hole that kept producing. I caught them in several different places every single day.
As I think about all of it I have to say that this is the best smallmouth fishery in the country, at least the best one I’ve ever had the privilege to fish. If you like to catch brown bass, and I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t, go up there for a few days and give it a try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Today [Monday] I’ll drive to Chatuge Lake in Georgia. I’m going to leave my boat there, fly home for a couple of weeks and then go back and get ready for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship. I definitely have my eye on the AOY title. But regardless of whether I win it or not I’ve had a good year thanks to all my fans, supporters, sponsors, B.A.S.S. and the great places we’ve fished.
Now that you’ve read about me catching them, I respectfully suggest you shutdown your computer and go catch some yourself.