Another bass filled tournament season come and gone leaving time to look back and reflect on some of the higher points of the season as well as some of the lower ones. This reflection process is very important to me as I’m easily my own worst critic. I take a lot of pride in my hard work and am always looking for that added ammunition to continue motivating myself to higher levels.
My main goal at the start of every season is to be a better bass angler when that season ends. This may seem like common place for a guy that spends as much time on the water as I do but in the grand scheme of things it’s not a given. In fact, I think it’s easier to instead get caught up in your norm, sort of rely on what has gotten you there in the first place. This isn’t necessarily laziness or lack of enthusiasm, actually it’s more like stubbornness. Frankly, it’s a challenge to have the confidence to make a change. I feel that confidence if groomed can be what will push me to accomplish my biggest goals.
I feel I did good this year at staying out of my comfort zones and forcing myself to be more versatile. I set out to get a better understanding of my electronics. I have thousands of dollars worth of equipment on my boat but knew that I wasn’t getting near that in return from them. Our electronics are our best tool when on the water, they’re our eyes under the surface. They crack the code of mystery that inhabits the underwater world. These tools expose not only fish but more importantly their forage and even more important, their actual living habitat. Combine Side Imaging and traditional sonar with gps and Navionics mapping data and I don’t have an excuse in the world for not finding fish. It’s right in front of my eyes. I honestly believe one of the biggest differences that separates regular pro bass fisherman from tour level bass fisherman is their understanding of their electronics.
I still have lots to learn in this department but can honestly say that I’ve learned a ton this past season. I’ve always been told by upper echelon bass fisherman that to consistently cash checks you need to consistently have thorough practices. To have the confidence to know fish are there by simply using what your electronics tell you is what separates the men from the boys. It allows you to cover water so much faster. I found myself being able to do just that this season, using my Navionics mapping data to find key looking areas and then idling over them scanning for sweet spots without ever needing to make a cast. Then come back during the tournament and whack a 5 pound largemouth, a fish that if hooked the day prior in practice never would have bit on game day when the money was on the line. This was so evident in helping win one of the biggest tournaments held in Minnesota this year. I put in countless hours scanning unfamiliar areas on Lake Minnetonka to find some hidden jewels which later helped produce a giant winning sack of fish to claim the top spot at the NABC event put on by North American Fisherman and Cabela’s.
Working on different tackle presentations is always a fun yet challenging thing to do. It’s hard to stay with something when you’re more confident using something else but is necessary in making yourself a more rounded angler. I actually find that learning a new technique is the easy part of the job but to master it you need to learn when and where. This is the hard part for me as I tend to run myself a bit thin, to actually master a technique you need not only know the ins and the outs of the presentation but also develop that sixth sense for when and where to employ it. Looking back at this past season I’m very pleased at my progression in that department. I feel more comfortable with a variety of newer tactics and presentations that were missing from my arsenal. Still lots to learn but definitely on the right track.
There’s no denying that I want to consider myself a professional bass fisherman. I’ll be the first to admit there’s still a ways to go to get to the level I desire but there’s a lot of different things that make up this kind of title being it tournament winnings, guiding, writing and all sorts of other business ventures that go with the sport. This past season I stepped up my relationship with Biovex and LoveSoulDream out of Japan. I’ve been associated with this company for a few years now but with their launch into the U.S. market scheduled in Spring of 2012, it’s opened a door for me to become more involved. One highlight of this upgraded partnership was the wrapping of my Ranger Boat which will showcase myself competing in some of the biggest tour qualifying tournaments at the national level. This is HUGE for me in my progression. There’s no denying there will be a learning curve associated with this but I’m jacked up for the challenge. As I said before, I’m my own worst critic but I also have an insane amount of confidence in my ability. So much that there’s no fear in jumping in head first. I’ll take my lumps right on the chin with the best of them but there will be no taking the smile off my face when I succeed.
I also enjoy writing about my passion of bass fishing. It’s odd in that I can’t write out two sentences about something other than bass fishing but when I’m talking shop it just rolls off my fingers. I’m definitely not schooled at this as you can probably see from my numerous grammar mistakes but I’m striving at getting better at that. Writing is important because it’s not only a great avenue for showcasing myself and my sponsors but it’s also a great way to reflect back on all that’s been going on. I’ve been writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Outdoor Page for a year or so now as well as maintaining this blog since I first started my pursuit of competitive fishing. I’ve also had two of my articles published this season in the Spring and Summer edition of Bass Angler Magazine and have just been told that my third one will be in the upcoming Winter edition. Just recently I was added to the Bass East team to not only showcase myself as an upcoming angler but also to expand my writing to other topics within the bass fishing community.
I’m also looking forward to growing my relationship with Navionics from not only being a member of their Pro Staff on the water but also being a contributor to their new digital NewsStand. The Navionics NewsStand is the first to offer a navigation app that provides users access to boating and fishing articles published by the industry’s most recognized magazines conveniently accessible from within the Navionics app.
My guiding business had it’s best year yet. We did a record amount of trips this year and all where a success. Such a success that we’re booking fast with return customers for our excellent Minnesota Fall smallmouth bite. Please feel free to email me if your interested in receiving more information or to book a trip.
All in all I managed to have a pretty successful season, fixed some things that needed fixing, developed some new confidence in areas that were lacking and of course opened up even more that needs to be worked on. The 2012 season is where I’m putting most of my energy now. Developing a game plan for big national level professional tournaments is a challenge I’m looking forward to as well as making an even bigger splash into the business side of the sport.
My main goals to insuring a successful 2012 season is to continue with the same humble approach that I’ve been accustomed to. Continue to work hard, give respect where respect is due, and be sure to always give 110% both on and off the water. The new year may still be a few months away but my 2012 season starts now.
See you on the water!