The Bassmaster Elite Series and bass fishing in general can test one’s resolve.
Like what I dealt with over the past two weeks.
Two weeks ago, we were at the St. Lawrence River where everything fell into place for me. I had a great practice, and we were dealt good conditions with calm winds and sunny skies.
That helped me see the grass, the bottom and the fish; it made me more efficient in practice. Once I got dialed in, I could run around and find multiple places to fish. Knowing several key places that hold concentrations of fish was a key to me winning.
I drove to Champlain after Sunday’s weigh-in and found different conditions. We faced colder weather, wind and heavy rains. It’s a vast lake and I hadn’t been there for few years; I needed better conditions to locate bass patterns and practice efficiently.
It was postspawn for smallmouth, so I spent my practice bouncing between largemouth and smallmouth patterns. I began catching bigger smallmouth in that 15-18 foot zone around scattered grass and schools of perch.
The first tournament day was canceled due to weather and the second day was one of those dreadful execution days all anglers face. To make things worse, the wind – that had blown hard out of the south during practice – switched to north. The lake lies north to south and the current flows to the north, so a south wind speeds up the current and that positioned fish on the up-current ends of points and shoals throughout practice. They were aggressive.
However, when it switched to the north during the tournament the current changed and so did the fish. I went to my first area and saw the larger bass were following my jerkbait but not taking it. I could only get 1- and 2-pounders to bite.
I switched to a largemouth area and my first bite was a 5-pound-plus. As luck would have it, I had him at the boat and he came off.
Now, I’ve learned that when things like this happen you can’t throw a fit or get frustrated. You must focus on what you learned from that bite and keep fishing. Thinking about it won’t bring that fish back.
Unfortunately, all I could catch there were 2-pounder largemouth, so I went back to my smallmouth where three big ones ate my jerkbait, but I lost those, too. It was one of those days when things wouldn’t go right.
The next day I started on largemouth and hammered them but couldn’t get catch much over 16 pounds, so I switched to smallmouth. I hooked good smallies on tubes and drop shot rigs but lost every big one I had on. I even lost two on the same cast; I hooked one, fought him briefly, he came off and another big one grabbed it and he came off, too.
What’s most frustrating about that is a 2-pound swing in Northern Elite Series events can move you up 20 places in the standings. The big largemouth I lost was a 3-pound difference in my total weight and could have moved me up nearly 50 spots.
Look at what the 6-pounder the last day did for Aaron Martens. It ultimately won him the tournament.
I’m not down because of my misfortune. I’ve gone through stretches like this before. It happens, but you have to roll with the good and the bad and not let your emotions get the best of you, whether you are on a good high or a tough-luck low. You have to keep your mental focus, fight on and take what you learn from lost fish and bounce back so you’re ready for the next opportunity.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!