Every Bassmaster Elite Series angler has been scrambling to prepare for next week’s season opener at Lake Martin.
It’s been crazy the past few weeks as I round up gear, get stocked with the baits I’ll need and finalize arrangements as we set off into a new year.
I’ve never been more excited to get back on the water with a new rig, new equipment, get into a warmer climate and in the midst of the competition that drives me.
It’s that time of year when tournament followers are making preseason predictions as excitement for Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing builds.
Even my family members have been coming to me asking for my thoughts on whom they should pick for each event. They know I have a lot of inside information about each Elite angler and their strengths.
While that’s true and I’m close to the sport, I’ve found that even my own predictions can be as wrong as they are right.
As a side note, I must admit that I saw my good friend Mark Zona’s preseason’s predictions, and I was extremely disappointed I was not among any of his favorites. That motivates me even more to prove him wrong!
On the other hand, his overall assessment was very similar to mine; he’s been around the sport, talked to enough pros and shared boats with them to know which ones could do well with this grueling 2018 schedule.
It’s important to note that there are several elements that come into play at each event and none is more important than momentum and confidence an angler retains if the waters and conditions fit his style.
Many of Zona’s picks were based on guys riding momentum from last year. You cannot underestimate that, whether it’s Brandon Palaniuk coming off his first Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year title or Jason Christie and Keith Combs who have been riding tremendous success the past couple of years. Those guys are layups when predicting who should have great seasons in 2018.
But don’t overlook the challenging part of the schedule and its seasonal timing as well as how that fits each angler’s style.
And remember the Elite Series is the toughest tour out there. Just look at the attrition we’ve seen the past few years and how the standings change throughout the season.
Chris Lane is a good example. He’s a tremendous angler who had an uncharacteristically brutal year last year. That shows you how quickly momentum can go the other way.
On the other hand, Chris finished strong and that could be the confidence boost he needs to turn it around this season.
One of the unique oddities of this sport is how an angler can get on a roll and then hit an unexpected bad streak. Last year I was having a very good season heading into northern waters Lakes Champlain and St. Clair that I know well. I had a ton of confidence but still underperformed, and it prevented me from making a more serious run at the Angler of Year title.
So how do you pick anglers for your Fantasy team? Obviously, it’s important to do research on each angler’s strengths and how they fit into each lake and conditions they might encounter.
But there is another deciding factor to consider. Which anglers have the strongest work ethic, spent time pre-scouting the lake, and show up at the ramp early every practice day and stays until dark?
Which ones have no trouble getting up early with a positive attitude when the weather is cold, wet and windy?
Which ones have the drive and passion for the competition, characteristics you find in all the top guys?
And above all, which ones have the momentum and confidence in their skills to match their strong work ethic? Those are the ones you must always consider.
If you do not love this game and can’t give it 110 percent, you won’t be successful because the ones who do will eat you alive.
So have fun with your picks and remember that in pro style bass fishing, it’s all about the attitude.