Last year at the 2019 Bassmaster Elite at Winyah Bay, I did something that was totally out of the box, something no other angler was doing. At the time some of the guys said that all I’d catch were dinks, but I kept at it. In the end I finished in eighth place, my best finish of the year.
My story is not so much that I was ahead of the game or that I knew something the other guys didn’t. My story is about not being afraid to try something no one else will and trusting your own instincts. It’s about not being afraid to be different.
Winyah Bay was a tough tournament. The runs were long. Big, heavy fish were at a premium. I ran 116 miles one way each day and only had two spots to fish. I had to take almost all the tackle out of my boat to increase speed and conserve fuel.
The area I was in was fishing small. Most of the guys around me were throwing a vibrating jig of one kind or another. But I decided to try a rig that was different. I can’t say it was totally unique, though. It’s been around a while, but you won’t see it used in a Bassmaster Elite series very often.
I screwed a small spinner blade into the back of a Yum Dinger. I Texas rigged it in the front and just let it settle into the grass and then pulled it forward. It came through the grass pretty good and got me a lot of bites. I’ll admit that most of them were small, but they were bites. And, every so often I’d catch a bass big enough to put in my livewell.
When the first cut came along I had enough weight to fish the next day, and I was able to fish the last day. Given the conditions I’d have to say that overall I’m a happy camper with the way things turned out.
The lesson of that event is that you can’t let what other anglers are saying or doing affect what you’re doing, or what you think you should be doing. This business — no matter at what level you fish — is an individual sport. You have to approach it that way. What one guy does, even if he’s successful, shouldn’t have anything to do with what you are doing.
Keep that in mind when the COVID-19 virus gets under control, and we’ll all be back to fishing like normal. Most anglers out there haven’t been fishing as much as they normally would have, and they haven’t been following the fish like they normally would have. Almost everyone got a late start. That means the bass might be doing something different from what you expect.
Don’t let that get the better of you. Don’t listen to dock talk or to what your buddies are saying. Do your own thing your own way. At the end of the day you might be better off for it.