Where did they go?

You know, sometimes you have to ask yourself, where did they go? And then, you don’t have the answer. It seems like after my win at the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Pickwick Lake I need to go to the grocery store if I want a fish. 

It’s a crazy business. I’ve always said that 90% of bass fishing is between your ears. Things are good between my ears, or at least I think they are, and have been during my career. I’m a positive guy. I don’t waste time going negative, and I won’t do that now or ever. 

Obviously, my first win didn’t change things in my head. I was positive before that and I’ve been positive after that. My practice at the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River went pretty well. I came off the water on the last day feeling like I had some good fish located and would be competitive once competition started. 

I can say the exact same thing about the 2021 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork. I know — with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight — that bedding bass were overrated, but still, I had some good, quality ones located in practice. When the tournament started, they were gone. All that remained were 2- and 3-pounders. You don’t do much on Lake Fork with that size bass. 

Both events were tough for me. I finished 42nd and 74th respectively in them and sank myself down to 36th place in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. That’s above the cut for the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk but not by a heck of a lot. A couple more disasters and I’ll be in real trouble.

What’s happening, as I see it right now anyway, is that I haven’t been able to follow the fish when they moved. I honestly don’t know why. It would seem like if you can find them in practice you should be able to find them during the tournament. But “it would seem” doesn’t get it done. Finding the fish is what gets it done. 

I want to make something clear though. I’m not complaining. I’ve had a wonderful life fishing with B.A.S.S., and I wouldn’t change it for anything. My thoughts are more philosophical than anything else. Sure, it’s frustrating not to catch them. More than that, though, I find it mentally challenging to try to figure out why I can’t. This has happened before so I can’t say it’s new. That doesn’t make it any more understandable though.  

If I do manage to figure it out, I’ll be the first to share it with you. Or, if you already have it figured out, don’t be shy about posting up your answer. I’d like to hear it.  

The bottom line is this: When bass move, for any reason or no reason, you have to move with them to where they’ve gone. It’s not their place to stay put. It’s the angler’s job to figure things out and find them.