The Classic was interesting to say the least. After a tough 2015 season that ended on a positive, I was just glad to be fishing in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic. Then my pattern turned out to be better than I anticipated, and I was suddenly in the hunt for the title. Obviously it didn’t pan out that way, but a sixth-place finish was a complete success in my book.
It’s easy to Monday-morning quarterback the three days of competition, but based on what I found in practice, I think it went as well as it could have. Looking back, I don’t know how much, or what, I could have changed to improve on the pattern. Plus, it was great to see Edwin finally win one—he’s had that coming for a long time!
With another awesome Classic behind me, I’m excited to get the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series season underway.
Now, my goal is to keep the momentum rolling into the first event of the year on the St. Johns River in Florida. I really like it there. I’ve finished second, had several other Top 10s, but this year I’m hoping to win it. The type of fishing that is required to be successful there really clicks with my preferred style of fishing, and that helps a lot.
Momentum is huge in this sport, but it can bite you if you expect it to keep swinging your way no matter what you do. There is bad momentum, as well—we talked about that in an earlier column. If you bank on momentum to carry you along, you’re bound to fall short of your goals. Momentum works to your advantage when augmented with hard work, determination and perseverance.
What I’m saying is simple: Let momentum be a complement to your game plan, don’t let your game plan ride solely on the momentum. In my mind, that’s how a slump can start. Nothing trumps hard work and experience.
Confidence is also very important when it comes to tournament fishing, but if you have too much confidence, it can work against you. For example, I know a lot of great locations on the St. Johns that have produced well for me in the past, but things change. Knowing that I’ve caught fish in certain spots with specific presentations is important information to have and consider anytime you’re fishing a familiar body of water, but I’ve seen those perennial patterns change dramatically.
Just stay flexible. To me it’s more important to be confident in certain methods than very specific spots on a specific fishery. Being willing to adapt to quickly changing conditions is probably one of the greatest assets a successful tournament angler can have, but if we’re not careful, we can all fall victim to fishing memories and trying to force a bite based on historical confidence.
In other words, being confident in your abilities is very important, especially when good momentum is on your side. Just don’t expect things to continue to go your way without the hard work.
I’ve got momentum on my side, and I’m confident in my ability to catch fish on the St. Johns River. However, you can rest assured that during practice I’ll have exhausted every possibility of what I believe will be key to winning there.