Traveling solo and quieting the 'little voice'

Can I just admit right up front that my biggest enemy as a bass pro isn’t weather? It’s not mechanical issues, not travel, heck it’s not even fish that don’t bite.

My biggest enemy is boredom. But let me explain that a little.

I’ve been a touring bass angler since I graduated from college back in 2001. That’s about 15 years of living like a gypsy, operating out of hotels, rental houses, campgrounds and the back of my truck, and about a zillion different arrangements with road roommates and travel partners.

The most recent couple of years, though, I’ve sort of been “Lone Wolf McQuade” on the road, doing my own thing. I generally stay in a hotel by myself and sort of operate on my own schedule.

I know a lot of people on the Elite Series team up, and have done so for years. They share rental houses at all the tournaments, they practice together, they travel together and more or less function as a team. But when push comes to shove, I’ve found that I do better when I work by myself, stay by myself and either succeed or fail by myself.

Not that I’m a hermit. It’s no fun to just hide away during tournament week and not hang out with people – I have a lot of great, longtime friends out here – but that being said, I’m generally not the kind of guy who needs to chatter with everybody they see.

Quieting the voice of doubt

Over the years, I’ve spent more than a few frustrating days spinning my wheels after a tough practice or a tough couple of days, paying too much attention to something a roommate or travel partner said that week about how his tournament is working out. Trust me, when you’re having a bad tournament (or even a bad season), it’s human nature to second guess yourself on your decision-making. That’s when that little voice can creep in and convince you to start making changes you really shouldn’t make.

You go into it thinking, “I got this handled, I’ll just do my own deal.” It turns out that your “deal” isn’t catching diddly, and that stupid little voice starts up.

“Well shoot, Powroznik said that he’s catching the fire out of them in 24 feet of water on a green pumpkin/copper tube on the south end of the lake, but I’m up here at the north end in 3 feet of water not catching much of anything, and, and, and, and …”

S-T-O-P!

You think that voice is going to go away? Nope.

It seems pretty easy to tune out all the dock-talk chatter right when you’re hearing it, because you know how the conditions have been for you. But I’ve found that the more time I spend talking fishing with the rest of the Elite field, the more likely that little voice is going to start pecking away at me.

I sometimes have a hard time shutting it up.

The bottom line is that we’re all pretty confident anglers, so we all feel like we know what we’re seeing out on the water. But I can tell you straight up that I’ve spent some days fun fishing with guys and at the end of the day, when we’re all sitting around talking about the day, I’d swear they were in a different boat, on a different lake than I was.

So now, I travel alone and pretty much keep to myself while I’m out here.

But here’s where the boredom thing bites me.

You’re in a hotel for a week, and in the case of a place like the recent Potomac River Elite – an area that I’ve spent many a tournament week in – you run out of ways to keep yourself occupied. You simply can’t watch anymore TV, you can’t tweak anymore tackle, and you can’t really call your friends and family back home because they’re three time zones away, busy doing what normal people do.

Naturally, you get bored. The phone rings, it’s another angler, you answer it just out of boredom…and, the next thing you know, you’re talking about fishing.

I often feel like an idiot because I learn this lesson over and over and over! I know better than to answer my phone at night when it’s another angler calling. I know better than to give that little voice another chance to start talking to me.    

Hey, I applaud those guys who travel/practice/work together. More power to them, but I’m going to keep on flying alone and fishing 100 percent according to my own plans. It worked pretty well for me at the Potomac, as I finished just outside the Top 12, in 14th place.

Now, as long as the phone doesn’t ring at night when I’m in a fit of boredom…

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