This is a tournament where there's just no second place for me. I've had a disappointing season. I'm in 61st place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, and I have no chance to move up enough to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic on points.
I have to win the season finale on Wheeler Lake in order to make the Classic. Second place won't be good enough.
So, I've been approaching this tournament a little differently than I would ordinarily. I've been looking very specifically for the fish that I think it's going to take to win here.
I've got a couple of places that I'm very optimistic about. I haven't had a lot of bites on them, but I haven't been fishing them enough to determine what sort of numbers might be there. I know there are some good fish on these spots. I just hope there are enough of them to keep me in contention all four days.
I'm anticipating that it'll take about 22 pounds to make the cut to 50 after two days. Of course, someone's going to whack 'em, and I hope it's me. I think I'll need about 17 pounds on Thursday to be in contention.
The fish here are scattered. The water level's been fluctuating, there's been a lot of water moving through the lake, it's a little dingier than usual, and the fish just aren't grouped up. No one's going to go out there and catch 50 a day.
To make things a little tougher yet, the surface temperature in the middle of the day is in the low 90s and most of the fish seem to be suspended. I'm catching a mixed bag of largemouths, smallmouths, freshwater drum and catfish. Luckily, the bass have been pretty good ones, and I'm hoping there are enough of them on my spots — I'm working offshore areas — to keep me in the hunt.
It would be great to turn things around with a win here, but I want you all to know that I make no excuses for my season. I'm in this situation because of the poor decisions I've made and some second guessing that I've done. I've always considered myself a student of bass and of tournament fishing, and this year has been a tough reminder of how far I have to go in my understanding.
On a lighter and brighter note, I'm really excited about a new promotion I'm doing with one of my sponsors. It's the "Nothing Biting But the Fish” sweepstakes, and to check it out, go to www.facebook.com/repelinsectrepellents. There you can click on the sweepstakes button and sign up to win $5,000, a fishing trip for two with me in Texas and a selection of Repel products.
Hopefully, we'll be fishing together soon!