No longer fishing scared

I have to admit that my rookie Bassmaster Elite Series season did not start out the way I would have liked, but I’ve been able to turn it around just in time for the Northern Swing.

The first three events were brutal. I don’t know how to explain it — I guess I was fishing scared, but I started the year really poorly.

The turnaround started for me at Chickamauga Lake, where I took third place. I followed that up with a top 30 at Lake Fork and then the fourth-place finish at Pickwick Lake.

So my last three events went about as well as you could ask. Sure I would have liked to win one of those events, but I feel like I have all my confidence back.

I finally feel like I belong.

I guess I started the year nervous, but I think that rough beginning actually helped get me to where I am now. After that disappointing start, I thought “Well, I’ve got nothing to lose now,” so that motivated me to start fishing my way.

In the first three events I think I got caught too caught up in what was going on in practice, rather that focusing on what was going on during the tournament. I was fishing to get a check and not fishing to win.

I do so much better when I fish to win. I don’t worry about points; I don’t worry about getting a check. I go catch all I can each day and just try to win. That’s my recipe for success: fish the moment.

After those first three Elite tournaments, I thought I was out of everything — I was out the Bassmaster Classic, I was out of the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race, so it was just go do what you do and fish the way you like.

This mindset definitely helped because I couldn’t have scripted the last three tournaments any better — except for a win. Really, I can’t complain. We’re six events in, I have two Top 10s, I’ve moves way up the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year list and I’m only three points back in the Rookie of the Year standings.

I’m definitely pleased with the way it all came together, and I’m particularly enthusiastic about the remainder of the season. I have a pretty good shot at the Classic and a pretty good shot at earning Rookie of the Year. I just have to do well in the final three events.

Fortunately, this final stretch will take me closer to my smallmouth roots. I grew up in Ohio, so I spent a lot of time on Lake Erie. Smallmouth have always been nice to me, and I feel like I understand them.

I’ve never fished the St. Lawrence River, Lake Oahe or the Upper Mississippi, but I don’t imagine it will be much different than what I’m used to. A smallmouth is a smallmouth anywhere you go.

Hopefully we can go up north and get a win. There’s nothing in this world I love more than smallmouth, so I’m definitely excited to head up north and catch some of them.