Wins just happen

This one was sweet. Going into the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge, I figured it would be a tough one. It wasn’t so much that the fishing would be tough. I know there are plenty of bass in that river. That was never the problem. It was the bigger ones I was worried about. My goal was to have a good tournament, to be in contention. 

Really, that’s pretty much been my goal throughout my whole career. I know that if I’m consistently near the top and make cuts I’ll get my chances at winning some of them. Any other thinking just isn’t realistic. Too many things have to come together to believe you can win them all. 

The truth is — wins just happen.  

You can fish correctly and have one bass come off. That’s the difference between a win and a strong finish. Or, you can have any number of other problems. Any one of which will kill you. This is the big leagues. There’s no mercy on anyone, or from anyone. 

What if my big bass had come off that first day? Or suppose I’d had mechanical problems and missed a couple of hours of fishing on any of the four days? When you think about all that has to happen it’s a miracle that anybody wins.  

Look at last week. You’ll see what I mean. I knew there were fish close to the launch. I made a decision to fish between there and the interstate bridge. I burned 11.6 gallons of gas in four days on the water. Basically, I didn’t hardly run at all. 

The idea behind that was that I knew I’d catch bass, and I thought I’d catch enough of them to make one cut, maybe two. But, at the same time, there was a negative. The other guys knew there were fish in that area, and this is the Bassmaster Elite Series. I knew they’d catch them. But, then again, I knew they couldn’t catch them all. My approach was a mixed bag, for sure.

I thought I could have a good event and be competitive if I could catch my share. It all worked out because I did something they didn’t. I fished big, topwater baits for my better bass and flipped and pitched for my ordinary keepers. 

One nice bass came home on a squarebill, though. She was the same one I’d missed on top the day before. I’m positive that she was the same fish. There’s no doubt in my mind. I’ll tell you how I know that in a later column.

In the end everything fell into place. How often does that happen and when will it happen again? Nobody knows. Like I said before, wins just happen. All you can do is try to stay competitive, control what you can, and hope everything else falls into place.  

Naturally, I’m happy I won. But it’s almost as important to me that I had a good tournament. That was my real goal, and I met it. I’m good with that.