Over the past few years I’ve led several big tournaments but never won one of them. I suppose I was waiting to do it on my home lake, although I didn’t know that at the time. What a thrill, winning the 2021 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Neely Henry Lake!
Over the course of my career I’ve put a premium on being consistent. I’m not one of the hero or zero type of guys. I’ve cashed a check in 21 of the 26 B.A.S.S. professional level tournaments I’ve fished since 2017. I’m proud of that.
That was my thinking when I fished the Southern Opens in 2017 and the Central Opens in 2019. I took a break from the Opens in 2018 because I was fishing the FLW Tour, and I fished the Tour in 2019. But with all the changes going on I decided to fish the Opens again and try to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was fortunate enough to qualify. So, here I am holding up one of those blue trophies.
My plan for staying consistent is to spend my practice time breaking down whatever body of water we’re fishing. While I’m doing that I try to determine if it’s an event I can win or one that I need to concentrate on placing high and making a check.
I understand that not every body of water breaks down to my style of fishing or plays to my strengths. It’s important to understand that as a professional bass angler. This is a career. Not every tournament is going to end with a win. Accepting that is a big part of success in this business.
At the same time, though, it’s important to stay flexible and not allow yourself to get locked into one kind of thinking. That’s exactly how things unfolded last week.
On the first day of practice I saw some things I liked. Then, on the second day, the weather system blew through and turned everything upside down. What I learned the first day wasn’t going to get it. So, on the third day of practice I decided to make a long run down near the dam. That was basically my final plan. But, like I said it’s important to stay flexible.
When we launched on the first day of competition I noticed that the water was down at least half a foot. I knew that drop in the water level had exposed some grass farther up the lake. I decided to fish it first. If it didn’t produce, then I’d make my run. It did produce, and I fished the entire tournament up there.
The thing about catching fish is that it’s an ever changing situation. If I’d stuck with my original plan, I wouldn’t have won. It’s one day — sometimes one hour — to the next. Things don’t stay the same, and neither should our fishing.
I don’t want to leave without thanking my sponsors for their support and most especially my parents and my girlfriend, Riley, for their support. They mean the world to me.