With the tournament season all wrapped up and winter just right around the corner, I find myself wasting no time preparing for what lies ahead in 2010. My plans are to step it up and really concentrate on tournaments that can take me to the next level and eventually pave the way to accomplishing my life goal of competing at the tour level. To be fortunate enough to actually obtain this goal would be incredible. I plan to continue to fish in the top circuits throughout the midwest, at the same time start preparing for larger national level tournaments. My next major move would be to enter the FLW Strens and the Bassmaster Opens, in an attempt at earning my way onto either tours, the Bassmaster Elite Series and/or the FLW Tour. The lakes that host these national pro tourneys are scattered throughout the United States and to consistently finish at the top requires an extremely versatile angler. I do have some knowledge of lakes outside Minnesota and Wisconsin, but really want to spend the next year or two learning how to fish other lakes throughout the country before I make the commitment and take that plunge to the next level. I want to be sure to give myself the best opportunity to succeed. Which also leads to the question of what happens if I do make it to the Elites? Being financially secure enough to compete at the Open level is manageable for a younger guy like myself, but having the financial security to compete at the tour level is a whole other thing. I could really use the next few years to save money and even more important, continue to develop business relationships with companies that have the same visions and the means to offer that security.
This year I plan on fishing a Weekend Series event as a non boater on Kentucky lake in either May or June in an attempt at helping me get more familiar with classic ledge fishing. This style of fishing is not something that we do here in Minnesota and there is no better place to get a crash course than Kentucky or Tennessee in the early summer. I’ve also got plans to fish the Bassmaster Weekend Series event on Grand Lake, OK, in mid April on the Pro side. I’ve been down there the past 3 years in a row and every year I’ve managed to do well. Going down there and competing against locals on their water would be a great test for me. I’ve also not decided on which one, but I will be registering into a Open tournament as a non boater. Before I put up the cash I want to be familiar with all that goes into one of these tournaments. Most of it is basic tournament bass fishing I would imagine, but in the long run I think it would prove beneficial.
I’ll be fishing the Silverado Pro Tour again next year with my sights set on both winning an event, as well as the top honor of winning the Angler of the Year title. I’ll also be competing in the Bassmaster Weekend Series with the main goal of qualifying for the National Championship. In the two years I’ve fished this circuit I’ve been fortunate to do well, my first year I finished second in the Angler of the Year points and managed to cash a check in 3 out of 5 tournaments. This year I won the first event of the season against an 88 boat field and both seasons qualified for Divisionals. Neither year though have I qualified for the National Championship. Accomplishing this definitely is at the top of my list. Plus to sweeten pot, the championship is being held on Alabama’s pride and joy, Lake Guntersville.
This winter I’m looking to have the most productive off season yet. I want to establish a few successful habits that will assist me on the water. One is preparing for tournaments off the water by studying maps and using tools like Google Earth and getting better familiar with the body of water before I ever even launch my boat. This will help develop better game plans well before the first day of practice.
I also think it’s very important to be in the best physical shape I can be. Tournament bass fishing requires extremely long hours in less than perfect conditions. The amount of wear and tear on both your mind and body can be debilitating. I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym working on my strength and endurance. The more reps I make in the weight room the further I’ll be able to cast that spook and the more accuracy I’ll have flippin’ a jig to a tournament winning largemouth. The biggest benefit is the more you work out the healthier you are in both body and even more importantly, the mind. To a tournament bass fisherman, mental strength is the biggest asset, it’s what separates the pro’s from the legends.
Though with all this, you know I’ll still be spending time on the water! Chasing around smallies this time of year is as addictive as it gets. I’ve managed to get out a few times the last week and had some pretty good success. Look for pics to be posted soon.