A new approach for 2022

As we approach the midway point in the Bassmaster Elite Series season, I find myself in 28th place in the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. If I had to grade myself on a scale of one to 10, I think mentally I’m fishing like a seven, even though, on paper, it probably looks like a five.

That’s okay because I’m approaching this year a little differently. I’m not counting points; in fact, I’m not even paying close attention to how I’m finishing in tournaments. I don’t say that because I don’t care, but that’s not what it’s about.

If I don’t win, I’m just going to keep fishing like I’m fishing right now. I knew that, with this approach, it would most likely be a bumpy road, at times. I’m not trying to fish to make the Bassmaster Classic, and I’m not trying to make a check. I’m just trying to win.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to where I’m at in the Angler of the Year points or where I finish in one of these tournaments. I’m just going to fish my guts out and try to stay very calm and focused.

I feel okay with that approach so far; I’ve just made couple of bad decisions this year — especially at Santee Cooper Lakes. What’s interesting is that tournament standings don’t always tell the full story.

At the Santee Cooper event, I feel like where I fished was a great idea and what I did was a great way to win the tournament. But the rain on our day off and a few other things that I wasn’t aware of cost me the chance of finishing anywhere near the top.

So, in retrospect, I made a mistake in that event. Where and how I fished wasn’t a bad decision; it was just a mistake in not putting all the pieces together and maximizing my plan’s potential.

That’s just going to happen every year at different tournaments. Two plus two equals four most days of the week, but sometimes it doesn’t.

On the flipside, I was able to get back on track with a 32nd-place finish at the next Elite event on Chickamauga Lake. Of course, that was very encouraging, but honestly, I think that was my worst tournament because I was trying to do too many things.

That’s the one tournament where I should have focused on a very specific pattern — and that could have been many things. I could have honed in on a swimbait and done well. I could have honed in with a jig in my hand and done well. I could have honed in with a ChatterBait in the backs of creeks and done well. I could have stayed on the river ledge and done well.

All things were working, but I was doing all things. When you do all things in a tough tournament, you’re only getting just enough bites to fill a good limit. I was a little spread out. I didn’t make good decisions, and I give myself a pretty bad grade on that one.

I should have known more about how to approach that tournament, based on the prespawn. It’s always tough that time of year, and it’s always tough when it’s cold. Sometimes you just have to buckle down, and I didn’t.

Chickamauga was basically a junk fishing tournament for me, and it was the wrong event to junk fish. I did OK in the tournament, but at the end of the day, didn’t fish it correctly.

That one bothers me, but if there’s one lesson I’ve learned this year, it’s to not get flustered. I’ve decided to to just have fun this year. Last year, I was pretty stressed.

So my goal going forward, is to just stay consistent with my fishing, and I feel like everything happen as it should.