Persistence paid off

Persistence — that’s the word I’d use to describe my week at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest. Things didn’t go as I had envisioned, but keeping my head down and making the most of what I had to work with led me to a seventh-place finish.

On my first day of practice, one thing I wanted to rule out was the shad spawn. There was enough of that going on where a guy could get a couple really quick in the morning and then go fish deep.

I didn’t find a shad spawn, but while I was fishing around the bank, I caught a couple of nice 4 1/2-pounders. I had planned on only spending an hour on the shallow stuff, but the next thing I know it’s 10 o’clock.

I caught another decent one, I started seeing a few more and pretty soon, it’s the end of the day. I figured I’d go out deep the next day of practice, but that night I was thinking that in all the tournaments where I’ve fished deep, you had to commit for three days and I’ve already lost one day. So the guys that have committed to fishing deep are already 13 hours ahead of me. 

I decided that I had seen enough big fish shallow to stick with it. So, for the rest of practice the tournament, I never made a cast out deep; I stayed on the bank the entire time.

I’d say I found a good pattern and some good areas, but I wasn’t on the winning fish. My best was 20 pounds a day, while Brandon Palaniuk and Brent Ehrler’s worst was 20 a day.

But, like I said earlier, it was all about persistence. I decided to forego the deep patterns and commit to the bank, where I fished the hay grass with Booyah Pad Crashers (regular and popping styles). 

I used all shad colors because, even though there wasn’t a shad spawn going on, I was seeing a lot of shad up there shallow. All the fish I caught were spitting up shad, so I knew I had the right colors. 

Now, I’m sure most people following the tournament heard about my mishap on Day 1. I ended my day targeting schooling fish with a jerkbait, but then I decided to throw a Zara Super Spook to try and catch a big one.

Well, I caught a little 12-incher and when I got my finger in his mouth, he slipped out of my hand and buried the back hook in my left hand. I’ve only done that a few times and usually, I could just do the braided line trick where you push down on shank and then pop the hook out with braided line.

But this one was in pretty deep and the angle would’ve made it pretty difficult to pop out. Fortunately, he was able to push the point through, cut off the barb and then back the hook out of my hand.

As bad as it might have looked, it really didn’t affect my fishing at all. I’m not going to tell you it was fun, but by the next day, my hand was just fine and I was able to focus on fishing.

This incident did motivate me to assemble a little emergency kit of medical items to keep in my boat. Not only for me, but if another angler pulled up to me and needed help removing a hook, I want to make sure I have some basic dressing and antiseptic items on hand. 

One piece of advice I can definitely offer is this: If you ever end up with a hook in your hand, your arm, your leg or anywhere it’s safe to get it out; don’t wait around — get it out as soon as possible. In those first few minutes, the area around the hook is pretty numb, and it’s a lot less painful to remove the hook before it starts throbbing.

Thankfully, I got off fairly easy this time and I’ll be ready to fish the next Elite Series event on Dardanelle. I don’t know if I’ll throw a topwater yet, but if I do, you can bet I’ll hang tight on to any fish I catch.