I’ve looked at my results over the past two events and realized I have a pattern that has been a part of my career. Let’s call it the Day 2 bump.
The phenomenon is one that happens when I have a better Day 2 than Day 1 at tournaments. It would be easy to say I learned something on Day 1 and was able to expand on it the next day, which led to the improvement. But the more honest answer is I need to do better in my practice and during competition.
I’ve had three events this season that fall into this category: the season opener at Lake Okeechobee, then the last two events at Lay Lake and the Sabine River. But, as I said, it’s kind of a historical trend in my career.
As I’ve evaluated things, I’ve come to two conclusions that are things I need to improve. The first and most frequent thing is I tend to do too much sampling of areas in practice instead of truly dissecting them. The second thing is I’ve kind of developed a habit of trying to recreate my practice in the same areas, fishing the same cover instead of working the whole area.
The first problem leads me to overvalue areas at times, and it takes me too much time to realize the lack of quality fish in the area during the event. Not having a complete understanding can keep me from making subtle adjustments with baits or the size of my weight that can trigger bigger bites because I am still trying to figure out the area.
What seems to cause this is I’m guilty of making quick passes through areas, and once I get a couple of bites, I end up thinking the area has a larger population of fish than it might truly have. I believe I need to try and be more efficient and fish these areas a little more thoroughly in practice to better ascertain the population and size of the fish in it.
I committed that error at the Sabine River during our last event. I had four areas I felt had the right quality fish in it, but I overvalued the first three. I ended up having to go to my fourth spot late and scrape together what I could, then really work the area on Day 2. Fortunately, it worked out, and I improved and made the cut. But I am still limiting my ability to be as competitive as I want to be.
When I won last year on the St. Johns River in Palatka, I put in the right amount of time to develop and understand the deeper bite I would need in the cooler conditions on Days 1 and 2. From there I followed as the weather warmed, and they moved shallow. That win only happened because I took the time to understand the area.
When I won in 2010 on the California Delta, I struggled in practice and went to Italian Slough, the only area where I had quality bites. I worked to understand the area throughout the event, but the principles were the same. I understood the areas more completely, and I worked to stay in the moment, staying with the fish as opposed to trying to recreate my practice days.
I will begin to combat this by leaning a little harder on areas I think have the right stuff in practice as opposed to assuming they are right. I will try to vet those areas more thoroughly and then work to stay ahead of the movements and migrations as the event progresses. I believe this will help me improve my performance the rest of the season and beyond.
For you the reader – fellow anglers – what does this mean for you?
Be a little more thorough in your practice and work to not try and recreate practice when it matters. These fish change too much and too rapidly to try and fish old spots or chase history. Doing things that way limits us and keeps us from seeing the pattern that might be right in front of us.