Another year flies by just like that. Unbelievable how quickly time can pass by. It seems like just yesterday I was setting goals for 2010 and now it’s only hours away from being 2011. I had a very busy 2010 and I guess that’s why it seems as time just flew past. What’s the saying? Time flies when your having fun?
Anyway, looking back at this past year I have some mixed reviews of myself and my fishing. Overall I feel like this was my toughest year to date. I just completed my third year of competitive fishing and this year was my worst out of the three as the first two were highly successful. I find this odd as I’m a thousand times better fisherman than I was three years ago and am even more driven. Even more so, I’m a lot better angler now than I was at the start of this season yet it didn’t show at the scales.
When I first started tournament bass fishing I wasn’t very versatile. I was a shallow water jig fisherman and that year that’s what I did, I fished shallow and I took advantage of every good fish that bit my jig and tournament after tournament I collected a nice paycheck. Then the following year I managed to win a real big one down on the Mississippi River. Again not really getting away from what got me there. It wasn’t until the very next tournament, the Silverado on Green Lake, in Spicer, MN. I found a deep bite and was catching rogue smallmouth on every cast. I couldn’t sleep that night, never in my life had I found those true sweet spots that people talk of. I tossed and turned all night as I truly thought I was going back to back major wins.
That tournament day held up to the hype too. Tt was the best single day of fishing I had ever had and the weather was absolutely awful. Four foot waves were coming over the bow of my Ranger every 3 seconds but I must have caught over 60 fish that day. All big ones too, the only problem was they were all around 3 to 3.5 pounds. I simply wasn’t catching the 4’s like I needed to win and like the ones I was catching in practice.
I ended in 16th place, not horrible but not great. Leaving there I had such satisfaction and still know in my heart that had the weather not negatively effected these deep spots so bad I would have won that tournament. Best part, no one else was even close to me all day. I was the only one running that pattern or at least that had the kahunas to actually sit out there and take a beating that day. That drive home I was as excited about my fishing future as I was a week back leaving the boat ramp with a 5 thousand dollar check in my pocket. I truly found a hidden gem, loaded with good ones at that and caught them in ways I only saw on TV. Not the way Josh Douglas usually catches them.
That day, though one of the most exciting days of my fishing career was also one of the most necessary as well. I found how tournaments could be won off the bank, out deep where true big stringers pile up in big schools. I made it my destiny to learn off shore structure. Every chance I got I was learning my electronics, trying to determine what I was fishing under the water and trying to teach myself how to effectively comb deep structure. I found some success and learn relatively quickly though the problem was when do I know where to be and what to do? See when your heart set on banging shallow cover all day, it doesn’t matter what the conditions do because your staying put, your looking for 5 good bites. Most of the time you’ll get those bites however you may never get that big stringer like the guys out working over that deep milfoil or those deeper hard bottom areas. Truth to the matter is I spread myself to thin, trying to milk run everything and just not cleaning up.
There’s no doubt I am a better angler than I was last year at this same time. I not only am comfortable in deep water as I am in shallow water but I now have confidence in a lot more different techniques as well. This all stems from trial and error. I caught my largest bass of a lifetime at over 8 pounds on Falcon Lake last February on a flip shot rig. I helped cash a paycheck this spring throwing wacky rigs and had the smallies coming up and eating jerkbaits all Spring. This Fall I did most all my damage on a crankbait from 1 to 15 feet of water and caught some of my best fish of the year and last but not least, I inspired myself even more the day I caught my first giant on a true swimbait and became straight addicted on the countless rest that followed.
It takes time to learn and be confident with new fishing techniques. If I want to continue climbing the ladder of professional bass fishing than I need to know when to adjust. The only way to learn that is from paying the dues and listening to myself. After all, I’m the one that got me there.
On a very positive note, my business side of bass fishing had probably the best year yet. I cannot tell you how truly important it is to excel on the business side of the sport as well. No one likes to hear it but it’s so true. Professional bass fishing is a 50/50, you need to be as good off the water as you are on the water. This was so apparent at the Bass University last month in Chicago, those guys are talkers as much as they are flippers. There are a lot of great fisherman out there, one’s that could compete on the water with KVD but couldn’t hold his jock strap with a camera in his face. I’m convinced KVD is selling Sexy Shad Series 5 Crankbaits in Pakistan, the dude’s unreal.
This year has been great and I’m looking so forward to 2011 to be even better. I’ve signed on with Trokar which is awesome for me. I only accept business deals with companies I use, baits that I rely on. Being able to work with Trokar and exclusively use the best hook on the market is a no brainer.
I’m also developing a long term relationship with Biovex, a Japanese company that has a lot of big things planned for the future, things that I am very fortunate to be involved with.
Check back in 2011, as I plan to lay out my future agenda and goals for the upcoming season and beyond.
Happy New Year!