Those of us with faith often say that God shows His strength through our weaknesses. The truth in that statement was clearly demonstrated at this week’s 2020 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River.
Let’s be honest: I have no real strengths that apply to a fishery like the St. Johns River. I didn’t grow up fishing shallow, giant bass waters. I learned how to do that out of necessity when I decided to turn pro. However, necessity isn’t the same thing as natural.
My home is in Connecticut. I do have skills that help me in early tournaments that are held on deep, clear lakes. This wasn’t one of them. I was out of my element.
What I’m talking about is swimming a swim jig Alabama style and flipping and pitching mats. My success was totally dependent on the way things worked out. If we had fished on the first two days, the wind probably would have kept me from getting to my areas. If the tournament had gone into a fourth day, I probably wouldn’t have won it.
It’s been said many times that in order to win a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament everything has to fall into place. That’s what happened this week.
Another thing, too, was that the water pulled out of the areas where some of the guys were sight fishing. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have won. Things like that don’t happen by accident. It’s a part of His plan. Why is beyond our understanding, but that doesn’t take away from knowing that it was no accident. How can anyone think otherwise?
I went into Monday not thinking I would win. I was OK with that. I felt that whatever was meant to be would happen and that I’d accept it and be grateful for it. Last night [Sunday] I looked at the standings. I was ahead of Kelley Jaye by a pound and a couple of other guys by less than 4 pounds. On the St. Johns that’s no lead at all. One cast can make up those weights, and then some.
You know, it’s funny. When I qualified for the Elites it was by winning the 2014 Old Milwaukee B.A.S.S. Nation Championship on the Ouachita River. It allowed me to forge a career in this business. Some of the times have been tough but overall things are getting better. The win last year on Lake Lanier and this one have really helped. Kimber and I are starting to get a little bit ahead.
Again, let’s be honest. The Ouachita River isn’t much like Connecticut, either. And yet, it made my career possible.
Now that the 2020 Bassmaster Elite at Chickamauga Lake has been postponed our next tournament is the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk. I’ve been asked if this win has changed my thinking about the Classic or had any effect on me as far as attitude or confidence is concerned.
The answer to that question is no.
Every tournament is a unique experience. Every fishery is different, and changes with the time of the year and the weather. We know it’s likely to be wet, or at least it has been. Everything else is unknowable. I’m good with that.
I am thankful for this win, but I know where it came from so I’m not going to get too high. All the glory be to God!