Day 3 was OK, but Day 2 was tough. We had a three-hour fog delay. If I didn’t leave the launch by 9:15 a.m., I couldn’t make that run to Venice. Trip (Weldon) turned us loose at 9 o’clock. I only had 55 minutes to fish that day, with a cameraman in my boat.
On my very last flip that day, I lost a fish that was about 4 1/2 pounds. It was the only fish I lost that week. I had her right at the boat, but she jumped up and she spit the hook. My cameraman said, "Oh my God! Do you want to see that again?" and I said "I’m going to be seeing that the rest of my life."
And I do still see it. After the tournament, I figured it up and if I catch that fish, it would put me back at about 15 pounds for the day. That would have moved me up seven places. There was no way us guys down in Venice were going to win that tournament the way the weather warmed up. But prior to that, you couldn’t have told me I couldn’t win that tournament. The fish I found were that good… I finished 15th and people said, "Man, that’s pretty darn good for the Classic."
But you go there to win. No one wants second place. But one thing I learned in that Classic that has helped me have confidence for the past eight years is that I can fish with anyone. I belong here. I showed to myself and the world that I do have the skills to do what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.