This has been a year like none other, and one of the things that has impacted anglers the most is a longer fishing season. Because B.A.S.S. had to postpone several events earlier in the year, we’ll be fishing all the way into December.
That’s a big change for all of us because we’re usually done by early fall and on to our regular activities like hunting and spending time with our families. No doubt, 2020 has required a lot of adjustment, and that’s why it’s so important to be able to maintain your focus and motivation.
Even though we’re late in the year, we’re actually at the midpoint of the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens season — a time for reflection and evaluation. Finishing fifth on Lake Hartwell in late September felt good, but making a mistake on Sam Rayburn two weeks earlier still haunts me a little.
I made a great decision on the area of the lake that was producing the bigger fish, and I was on the right pattern. But I got too comfortable with one bait, and I didn’t change up. That’s normally not me, and I realize where I went wrong.
At Hartwell, I caught them on two or three different things every day. You kinda had to keep mixing it up because those fish would get educated. On Rayburn, I fished really basic, and you can’t do that when you’re fishing behind guys who are mixing it up with dropshots, football jigs, big swimbaits and all these different techniques.
But overall, I’m super excited to be leading the points in the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Opens and sitting in the third-place spot in the overall Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year standings. Surprisingly, my Rayburn finish didn’t hurt me that bad, so that was encouraging.
To be honest, when I left Rayburn, I was so down. I was thinking I had just ruined my chances at the overall AOY title. But when the stats came out, I realized that I didn’t fall back as far as I’d thought. So, all is well now.
At this point, there’s a lot of fishing left to do. That’s exciting because I’ll have several opportunities to continue building on my performance by fishing lakes I’m familiar with and some I’ve never visited.
I’ll definitely enjoy competing on lakes I know, but it really doesn’t bother me to fish a lake I’ve never been to. In fact, I actually like the challenge of a new lake because I’m constantly learning.
For example, I’m looking forward to fishing Lewisville Lake in Texas for the first time. That’ll be an interesting way to wrap up the Central Opens, and we’ll be fishing this lake during a time of the year that’s going to be unusual for all of us.
When you think about it, 2020 has had a great evening effect on the season because all the rescheduling will find us visiting a lot of these lakes during a time of the year that’s very different than when we would normally fish them. That tends to minimize any advantage local competitors may have.
Whatever I face, I feel confident with my versatility. I’m comfortable dropshotting, or flipping mats; it doesn’t matter. For me, it’s just a process of finding good water, eliminating water and identifying a couple of ways I like to catch ‘em.
To win Angler of the Year, either in the Eastern Opens or the overall Opens standings would be an awesome way to begin my career with B.A.S.S. Dad’s won nine Bassmaster Angler of the Year titles. I know those were slightly different AOY titles that he won back in the day, but still, Angler of the Year is Angler of the Year.
To win one of those titles would be awesome. I don’t mind telling you I’m thinking about it, and I’m going to fish a hard as I can to accomplish those goals.
It’s a journey; I try not to get too high or too low. It’s halftime, and we have a lot of fishing ahead of us. I have to keep fishing hungry; I have to keep fishing with a purpose and desire. If I can hold that mentality the rest of the year, I’m going to do my very best.