Strader: 'Third time’s a charm'

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Steve Bowman

They say the third time’s a charm, and that has certainly been true for me. Although this is my first year fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series, it’s the third time I’ve qualified. So last year I finally decided that somebody was trying to tell me something, and I’d better start paying attention. I don’t have to tell you that I’m glad I did. 

Plus, my win at the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Kentucky Lake presented by Abu Garcia — the third event this year — added even more truth to that old saying.

Really, though, any win at the professional level is special. They don’t come along all that often so when they do there’s something to celebrate. In this case that’s especially so because it kind of validates that I’ve arrived, that I made the right decision when I decided to switch to B.A.S.S. 

The fact that it came on Kentucky Lake is special, too. This is where my professional career really started. Back in 1997 I fished an event here and missed the cut by just a few ounces. David Fritts put it on me that day. Nevertheless, I made enough money to pay my FLW entry fees for the next year. That’s what I did, and I’ve fished professionally ever sense.

I’ve been asked a lot about what I’ve seen this year that’s different from the past 20 years. I’m not going to get into the quality of competition. There are good tournament anglers in both, and I don’t want to sound like I’m criticizing anyone. That’ll never be my intention. I will say, however, that I really like the fact that there are fewer boats in the Elite Series. 

The difference between around a 110 and around 180 boats may not sound like a lot to some, but it really makes a big difference when you’re fishing. There’s only so much productive water on any lake or river. Seventy or so fewer boats opens up a lot more water to be fished. It’s a lot less crowded over here at B.A.S.S.

Another thing — the crowds over here. Wow!

I’m not going to get into the details of how I caught my fish in this column. There’s plenty of information about that available on this site and elsewhere. I will say, however, that the lake seemed to get better for me as the tournament went along. I think it was because the lake stabilized and the bass settled down and started to feed a little better. At least my bass were acting that way. 

That was a relief and a big reason for my win. It’s never a good thing when you have to go head-to-head with a guy like Skeet Reese. You know that the yellow and black is capable of getting you at any time. Those colors stand for quality bass fishing. 

At the same time, though, I have to tell the other side of things. I’ve fished under pressure before. It’s nothing new. Over the years I’ve learned that the best way to deal with it is to not worry about anything except your bass. Who’s behind you or ahead of you isn’t want it’s about. I don’t fish against any angler. I fish against my fish. I figure if I take care of them everything else will work itself out in the end. 

It’s great to have won, but now it’s time to get on with the rest of the year. After a little sleep I’ll be off to fish the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Eastern Open #2.