This year sure has been different from last year, so far anyway. After one of my worst years ever — actually I’m almost positive it was the worst year of my career — I’m getting back on track. I can’t positively explain what’s happening, but I think it’s about two things. I feel better physically than I have in a long time, and I’m more mentally sharp than I have been in a long time.
You’ll recall that I wrote in a column last year, or maybe the year before that, that I was having trouble with the time involved in a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. If you add it all up, it’s well over a week.
You have one day of travel to the tournament, a day of tackle preparation, three days of practice and then however many days you fish, at least two. I was getting tired as those days rolled along. Every day was tougher than the day before. At the time I had surgery and the lip problem. It took its toll, and my record showed it.
It wasn’t that I was sick. I came through the surgery and the treatments just fine. But there’s still a recovery process that takes time, and as you age it takes more time than when you were young. Maybe I didn’t appreciate all of that at the time it was happening.
You hear this all the time, but it’s true: This is a game of mental decisions. Every angler in the Bassmaster Elite Series is a good bass fisherman. All of us can catch bass. That’s not what our tournaments are about. They’re about making adjustments on the fly that result in our catching just a little bit more weight than the other guys.
You can’t do that when you’re tired. It’s hard for your mind to work efficiently when your body isn’t.
The most important decisions are often at the end of the day. In the morning we decide how we’re going to fish that day. Sometimes that holds but more often than not it doesn’t. The adjustments that come after that are late in the day at a time when we’re more tired than we were in the morning, but late in the day is when we need to be at our best.
My experience should be a lesson to everyone. Take the time to look after your health. You can’t do your best at fishing or anything else unless you’re rested, healthy and alert. Note that I put rest first. Rest is not something that’s nice when you can get it. It’s an absolute necessity.
I can’t take all the credit for my turnaround, however. The thing that’s really helped me — something that I haven’t mentioned until now — has been a vitamin and supplement recommended by Gary Klein. It’s made by Blackfish 5. I take Motion 5 for my body and Kratos Max for my mind.
I started taking it late last year and had a couple of better events at the end. I took it through the winter and you can see what it’s done for me so far this year. Without it I’m not sure I’d be where I am today in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
Along with everything I’ve said, though, my confidence in myself and positive mental attitude might be the most important things of all in my improved performance this year. I’ve said many times over the years that they are the most important factors in fishing. This just might be a well-needed reminder of that.