Brutal truth about making the Classic, part 1

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Steve Bowman

OK, I’m in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. I can’t hardly tell you how excited I am about it. I’d pretty much made up my mind that I was out. I didn’t like it, but I had accepted it as a fact of life. I said what I had to say about that a couple of weeks ago so I won’t go any farther here. 

As excited and grateful as I am, how I qualified is a complicated issue for me. I’ve been on the bubble before so that part of things wasn’t unusual. What was unusual was that I wasn’t fishing. I wasn’t in control of my own fate like I had been all the other times. I had to hope that somebody else did something that helped me.

They did, and I’m super grateful for that. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I wish I’d earned my berth myself without any help from other anglers. I kind of backed into everything, and I know that.

At the same time I say all of that, however, I also have to say that in some ways I earned my berth by my fishing.

I didn’t fish very well last year. But I did fish well enough to take advantage of the last two Open winners being double qualifiers. I put myself in a position to be able to take advantage of a break if one came my way.

Going into the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite at St Clair and the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Mille Lacs Lake, I knew I was in trouble. I had intended to fish the last Northern Open on Douglas, but at the last minute I pulled out. Douglas has never been kind to me, and I felt like I needed more time — mentally and physically — to do my best at the other two events.

In hindsight that turned out to be a super good decision. I finished 31st on St. Clair and 11th on Mille Lacs. That wasn’t as good as I had hoped, but it was good enough to put me in a position that I might qualify. If I’d fished Douglas, I doubt that would have happened.

Here’s the thing about competitive sports, and all of life really. You don’t always win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to go. But if you keep trying and stay in the hunt sometimes a break will come along and make things better. If you can’t win, you at least need to try. You never know what might happen.

Basketball players get rebounds because another player missed his shot. Football players intercept passes because someone on the other team made a mistake. Fishing is no different and neither is life.

After all is said and done, I have to say that I’m not happy about how I qualified, but I’m also aware that on some level I qualified because I earned it. That’s the brutal truth. The thing I want to work on this winter and in the future is a change in how I approach my career so that it never happens again. 

Here’s the way I see it: If you suck, you can suck and feel sorry for yourself or you can suck and do something about it. Next time we’ll talk about how I’m going to do something about it.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.