Fishing for numbers

With only two events remaining in the regular season, my sights are set on improving my position in the AOY race and locking down a 2017 Bassmaster Classic berth. I’m sitting pretty good overall, and if I can put together two quality finishes at Potomac and La Crosse, I’m confident that I’ll be earning my way to the Classic.

I’ve fished several events on the Potomac River, and finished well there, but it’s going to be a difficult tournament for much of the field. First off, it’s tidal, which is a challenge to get used to and effectively fish. Second, it’s late summer and you can plan on there being reluctant fish.

But another factor that often gets overlooked at this point is angler intention becomes something worth considering. Before I get deeper into that, I need to say this first: Every single pro on the Elite Series is a fierce competitor and we all want to win. But, there comes a point when anglers must consider maintaining or improving AOY points as top priority.

The alternative is going all-in all the time, and while that can sometimes lead to a big win, it can also lead to an epic loss.

If some anglers decide to fish conservatively and build on their points, that could leave the door open for someone to sneak in an win that tournament. All the more reason to fish for the win, right?

Both approaches and have their advantages, but it’s a unique situation for every angler, and often a choice we don’t make in advance. It’s more of a game-time decision. If during practice I find the kind of fish that I believe could win an event, I’ll do everything in my power to take advantage. But, there are times when patterns fall apart and weighing a limit for points is the best you can do.

Put that on a larger level from a seasonal perspective, and it would be prudent to find a pattern that will afford a decent limit that’s sustainable for three to four days of competition, and hope to bump into some bigger fish in the process.

Complicated? It’s not nearly as bad as it sounds. Essentially, during the practice period you build a plan based on your research and experience. Once the tournament begins you do your best to execute the plan. As a weigh-in or two has taken place, you’ll know if the fish you’re catching will compete for the top spot.

If not, you do the best you can and fish for the numbers.

I’ve had some good tournaments on the Potomac River, and I’ve done well on the upper Mississippi, including a win out of La Crosse back in 2012. But, a lot has changed since then, and I’ve got a lot riding on this season, so I’ll approach each place as if they’re new fisheries.

Sure, I’ll check spots that have traditionally been productive for me, but fish-holding areas often change from year to year, especially in a river system. I will do my best to locate a quality bite, and exploit the pattern.

I have a lot of confidence in where we are fishing for the remainder of the season. From where I sit in the AOY points, I’m inside the Classic cut, but not by far. My bottom-line goal is to finish the season as well as I can and earn that 2017 Classic spot.

Maybe I’ll win one of these last couple tournaments in the process. Wouldn’t that be awesome!?

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