In the Classic cut ... so far

As we head into the seventh event of my first season on the Bassmaster Elite Series, I feel good that I’m currently 25th in Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and well within the Bassmaster Classic cut for 2022. A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but I’m committed to my goals, so there’s no letting up. 

Winning an Elite event has been one of those goals from the start, but qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic has been the main objective. Of course, winning a Bassmaster Classic is a career-defining goal that I’ve had for quite some time, but I realize I have to first earn the opportunity to compete in the sport’s biggest event.

Because of that reality, I’ve poured a lot of energy into making the Classic. Along the way, I can see that I really haven’t gambled yet this year; I just tried to keep myself in good position.

For one thing, this trail is still very new to me, and I wasn’t sure how all the variables of the Elite Series would play out. I guess I was a little cautious at first; let’s see how the competition is, let’s get used to the flow.

I’ve had what I consider four good tournaments and two not-so-great tournaments. At the first tournament of the year on the St. Johns River, I just missed that. It was a bad deal for me. At the most recent event on Neely Henry Lake I was on the right fish, but I had some mishaps.

That being said, I feel like I’m fishing well and making good decisions. If I can get through this week’s tournament on Lake Guntersville and remain in good shape in the points, I’ll have some room to stretch a few things in the last two events of the year.

I’ll admit, this event is going to test a lot of people. The fish are in that in-between phase where a lot of them are leaving the spawning areas, but they’re not fully committed to the offshore scenario.

I got bites every day of practice, but I didn’t get a lot of bites. I’m really going to have to fish my guts out for two days to make the cut. 

I always like to see my path to the cut and a potential victory, but I don’t really see that path yet. I have four different patterns — everything from sight fishing, to midrange in the grass, to deep ledges.

I have a little bit of everything, so I may have to lean on every bit of it to pull off something at this tournament. 

The one thing I’ve learned throughout this year is that guys catch them better every day. I’ve seen the weights go up Day 2 at most every tournament. These guys find everything — even on a big body of water like this.

Knowing this, I’ve realized I need to find spots I can have to myself. This is what I call “sneak holes.” I need to find a few spots where I don’t have to worry about other anglers finding it.

If I can do that, I’ll put myself in position to do well and keep my goal of reaching the Classic alive.