I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating the first two Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments because I’m a little shocked that I didn’t do better, or take advantage of these Florida events and get off to a better start.
I fished correctly at Lake Okeechobee. I had the right areas, and the same can be said for Seminole. I was in the same area as Mike Iaconelli and Carl Jocumsen, who finished 10th and 11th at Seminole, but I was boat #100 on Day 1, so I didn’t get to the area first.
I guess you’d say I had a little misfortune, and those are the uncontrollable factors you have to deal with. But for Okeechobee and Seminole, I was missing — in practice and the tournament — just one or two opportunities to help me settle in on what I needed to do.
For example, after I left my main area on Okeechobee, I went to my secondary area, which is where Clark Wendlandt and some of the guys were fishing down south. I was dialed in on that area for several months, but I get there and they’re not biting. The bite window had already happened. I was a little late getting there.
That’s a lot of excuses, but in fishing, confidence and momentum are a powerful combination. In either tournament, if I could have rolled into those areas and just got a meaningful bite or two, then it settles you into a state of focus and you can build on that.
Without those extra bites, I wasn’t able to settle into one thing. I fished with a head-scratching mentality. I was in the right areas and I was doing the right things, but I was wondering, “Why am I not catching them?”
You get one bite doing something and it settles you in to getting more bites. Without that, you’re confused and you’re fishing off-kilter.
At both events, I felt like the timing was off and I don’t know how to fix it. You can’t predict it, and you can’t prepare for it.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know where to fish, it wasn’t that I didn’t know the right patterns. I was very dialed in, especially on Okeechobee. I was super sure of what to do.
I just made some timing mistakes. Then I didn’t have that little bit of good fortune where you get an extra bite doing something, or your timing’s right and it all clicks. When that happens, all of a sudden, two or three more things happen, and you end up salvaging a fantastic day.
Now that I’ve had some time to think through the first two Elite events, it’s time to shift my focus to the Bassmaster Classic. It’s going to be just getting things simplified, getting my tackle together, spending time looking at maps and satellite imagery and familiarizing myself with the fishery.
My plan is to think a little outside the box, because a Classic is usually never won with your normal fishing strategies. It’s usually a special spot; it’s something that puts that person over the edge.
The thing is, you have to be looking for those special spots and those special bites, so I want to be ready to see those things and receive them. The Bassmaster Classic is like no other event, so you have to mentally prepare yourself to see those things that can make a difference in your tournament. If you’re looking for it you’ll find it.