Elite

I’ve got to get better

I’m sitting at home after the end of the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Series season, and I would call it a subpar season. I finished 67th in the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. I’m missing the 2023 Bassmaster Classic, and I’m not happy about it at all.

I cashed checks in six of the nine events, but I never built any consistency. Consistency is something I’ve always prided myself on, but it didn’t come together like that this year.

Every angler on the planet will experience a year or two like this in their careers, but I definitely do not like having a down year. I’m going to get to work and try to not let it happen again.

I’m convinced that I know what one of the factors is. When B.A.S.S. released the 2023 schedule, I took a look at all the dates and realized one factor will be significant in several events — that is forward-facing sonar. I have to get better with it.

To be honest, the technology has been a big factor for a while now. Bill Weidler used it to win the St. Clair tournament in August of 2020, and Patrick Walters used it to win Lake Fork that same year in November. I’m sure that it played a role in other wins, but those two were all about using forward-facing sonar to target fish. It definitely hasn’t slowed down since.

I’ve had my questions as to how long it’s going to be such a big advantage. Fish get conditioned to all sorts of things like lure types and presentations, and they certainly are aware of sonar pinging. I’m sure that they will adjust to the waves coming off the transducers and find ways to avoid it, but I can’t afford to wait for that to happen.

Part of this is my fault because I didn’t embrace it fully. I knew it was something to use, but I didn’t really realize how much of a factor it could be.

I’m going to change that and spend some time this offseason using my Humminbird MEGA Live. I want to get really comfortable with what I’m seeing and learn how to use it. I’m setting up my 2023 Skeeter Yamaha with all of my Humminbird and Minn Kota gear, and I’m going to spend as much time as I can on the water learning how the MEGA Live with Target Lock works.

I am really blessed to live as close as I do to Neely Henry Lake, which has a reputation for being one of the best crappie lakes in the country. I’m going to do a bunch of slab fishing and learn to read my MEGA Live under all sorts of conditions. Then, after I get comfortable with what I’m seeing and how it helps me locate fish, I’m going to take it into as many bass fishing situations as I can and learn what its capabilities and limitations are.

I didn’t like the butt whoopin’ I took last year at all, and as much as I’d like to enjoy an offseason, I guess there’s no rest for the weary. I’ve got to get to work.