New Year, No Fear

New Year, No Fear

January 04, 2021

My whole life I’ve been obsessed with fishing. Whether it be wading rivers for smallmouth, trolling the lake for striper, or fishing local bass tournaments… I have always had a passion for catching fish. From an early age my goal was to find a way to be able to fish for a living. Five years ago, when I became friends with John Crews, the goal finally became crystal clear - to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series.

In 2019, I took my first intentional step towards this goal in fishing the Bassmaster Central Opens on the Co-Angler side. I ended up finding some success from the back of the boat, winning the event on Toledo Bend. This year spent as a “co” afforded me some valuable new knowledge and experience. With this confidence I decided to take the next major step, and I fished the 2020 Bassmaster Central and Eastern Opens as a Pro.

A Different Beast

As a Co-Angler the temptation can be to size yourself up against your boater. You may think: “Oh, I could compete on that side easy.” However, when you find yourself at the front of the boat trying to break down a lake like Sam Rayburn, you quickly realize, it’s not as simple as  people think. Your focus isn’t just catching fish now… you have to find them. This isn’t like finding fish on your home pond, a lot of these lakes look like oceans.

There are various other factors that play in as well. Once you figure out where you want to fish, you have to make sure that you own the right chip in your graph to get there. Lakes like Sam Rayburn are death traps for boats, if you don’t know where the boat channels are.

Fishing tournament after tournament and traveling hundreds of miles in between takes a toll on your gear as well. Inevitably something at some point will break and you are faced with a whole new set of problems. What do you do when your front graph goes out on the final day of practice, the service trailer isn’t there and your “Plan A” was to fish offshore? What do you do when your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere, Texas on Thanksgiving weekend and not a garage within fifty miles is open?

There is a reason that many people fish one season and they are done. It is beyond tough. You fail, things break, you miss holidays/birthdays, there are hours upon hours spent driving alone, people back home talk behind your back of how they could do better, etc. This may have been a different beast, but these things haven’t turned me away… I’m hungrier than ever.

Practice, Practice, Practice

One of the biggest takeaways from this year was the importance of how I need to use my time in practice. It sounds simple enough. However, I have figured out that the “greats” of the sport don’t just figure out a plan in practice. They figure out a Plan A, B, C, D, etc.

Things happen when you don’t expect it. This year on Lewisville Lake was a perfect example of that. I found what I thought was “the juice”. It was an offshore spot which setup perfect for how I love to fish. I knew that a monster bag lived there. I was banking on that spot to produce and I spent practice finding several other offshore spots to pair with it. Then Day 1 rolls around and an unplanned 35 mph wind blows in from the south. This created five footers on all of my offshore stuff, making it unfishable and forcing me to trash all of my spots found in practice.

A Renewed Focus

My mindset last season was that I would fish two divisions, because that gave me the greatest chance to qualify. With fishing so many tournaments I lost a lot of time practicing. Also, many of these lakes I had never seen before. I have decided that I am going to fish one division and spend all of that extra time practicing - practicing with the new strategy I have developed.

Many people may look at a season like I had as a failure, however I learned so much and it was only my first season. The adversity that I faced didn’t bring about fear, it did the opposite. It has put a hunger and determination inside me greater than I have ever had.