Smallies and my season

First and foremost let me say that our hearts go out to all those affected by Florence. Stephanie and I send our thoughts and prayers for your safety and recovery. It’s a tough thing to go through.

OK, let’s get started with this thing:

It’s hard to believe that another season is coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was getting ready for our first event on Lake Martin. Now the regular season is over, and it’s crunch time for those of us who managed to stay in the top 50 in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. 

That group hasn’t included me the past two years, and I can tell you from experience that it isn’t any fun sitting on the sidelines. Every Bassmaster Elite Series angler has poured his heart into trying his best to get to the top and stay there. It hasn’t been easy, especially this year with all the weather issues surrounding a diverse schedule.

My season went well for the most part until we headed out to the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe and then on to the Huk Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River. 

Generally speaking I’m not intimidated by smallmouth fisheries. We’ve fished enough of them over the years, and I’ve done well enough in them, that I basically consider them just another element in a diverse professional bass tournament fishing schedule, one I can handle. 

But that was before our last two tournaments, when I was in eighth place in the AOY race with what I thought would be three tournaments to go in the schedule. 

Now I’m dealing with a 90th place bomb on Oahe, a weather cancellation of the Huk Bassmaster Elite at Upper Chesapeake Bay presented by Mossy Oak and a 105th place bigger bomb on the St. Lawrence. 

Those performances put me in 47th place. That means I have to do much better than par if I’m going to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. It goes without saying that I’d like to do that, and I firmly believe that’s a real possibility. 

But realizing that possibility depends on how I do this week in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship and, if necessary, how I fish in the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Classic Bracket competition.

One thing is for sure, I’ll fish aggressively this week and, if that doesn’t work out, in the Classic Bracket. If I don’t make it, it won’t be for a lack of trying. 

Making the top 50 out of a field of anglers as good as the Elites is no small thing. Every single one of us is proud of doing that. But, at the same time, not a one of us will tell you that we’re satisfied or that we’ve reached our goal for the year. 

We’re all competitors, and we all fish for the prize. The prize is the Angler of the Year crown and a big, fancy trophy that says we won the Bassmaster Classic. It’s far and away the most prestigious title in all of fishing, and certainly within all of bass fishing. 

My thinking: You can’t win it if you aren’t in it.