Finishing a tough and interesting year

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James Overstreet

I have a confession to make – I’m a very competitive person.

I’m the kind of person that expects a lot out of myself when it comes to my performance, and I don’t give myself very high grades for 2021. I’ve told people close to me that I’ve not been making very good decisions this year, and I’ve not been fishing very well.

I’ve had three tournaments that were right in my wheelhouse this year, and I made too many bad decisions to give myself a chance to even be in contention to win. I should have done better on all three of the high-water events.

Neely Henry, Guntersville and the Bassmaster Classic at Ray Roberts should have been tailor made for me, and I whiffed. Sure, I made cuts at Neely Henry and the Classic, and I just missed at Guntersville by a tie breaker, but I should have done much better at those events.

I’m actually kind of angry about Lake Champlain too. I missed the cut there last week. With the way the conditions were there, I should have done much better in the tournament than 53rd place.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I’m all set for the 2022 Bassmaster Classic. I know I’ve locked that up. But when you’ve been out here for as long as I have, and been able to be consistent, just qualifying for the Classic doesn’t necessarily mean it was a “great year.” I need to push myself as a competitor to be better than I have been.

At this level, it’s all about decision making and execution. I can look at a decision or a fish or two at each event that have really been the difference this year. If I were a baseball player, and I hit .290 with 18 home runs, I could look at it as a success. Or I could analyze the at bats and identify those where I could have had a different approach and made it a .300 year with 25 home runs. I think competitors need to do that.

That being said, and with the feeling I’m solidly locked in for the Lake Hartwell Classic, I’m going to fish this week at the St. Lawrence River like it’s a series of one-day fruit jar tournaments. I really have to shake things up and get myself out of the place I’m in. It might not turn out well, but that’s how I have to get my edge back.

Again, I am grateful for a lot of things about this season, but I feel like I owe it to myself as a competitor to shake things up and improve.

Before I leave this column though, I wanted to issue a compliment to B.A.S.S. and say thanks to some groups of people. 

With the past year behind us, and all the turmoil surrounding the pandemic, it’s felt like we have been fishing for more than a year. The schedule has put a lot of pressure on the organization and the industry, but we’ve made it through.

First of all, to B.A.S.S. management and the employees, the fact that you have planned and executed these events the past two seasons with all the concerns and juggling has been amazing. The effort and coordination it has taken has been amazing, and I want to commend all of you for your dedication to the fans, the industry and us as anglers.

To the industry and our sponsors, thank you for doing everything to provide us with equipment and support every year — but especially for the past couple of seasons. There has been a huge challenge with increased interest and supply chain challenges, and you’ve made sure we had what we needed to compete. Thank you!

To our families, we know how much of a sacrifice this job is for all of you, but you’re here by our sides, early and late. We can never say thank you enough or show enough appreciation for you being there every day. Thank you, and we love you.

And finally, to the fans of our sport and of B.A.S.S. Without you, none of this is as rewarding as it is, or possible. It is your willingness to watch, follow and engage that makes this career happen, and there’s not a one of us out here that doesn’t know it. This has been a long year, but we’ve seen your support at weigh-ins and on social media along our schedule. Thank you for being the best part of our sport.

I’ll check back after Waddington. See y’all soon.