This is one of the harder blogs to write. Not actual physical pain, but the pain that your ego feels when you come off of a tournament win on a body of water that you have never fished before, and then end up zeroing in your next tournament on your home waters. That is why it is called fishing and not catching, right? Instead of focusing on the zero I am going to highlight some of the mistakes that I made in this tournament and turn a bad situation into a learning situation for both you and I.
The first major mistake that was made was not paying close enough attention to the weather forecast and how it would affect the area I was fishing. Three days before tournament time a huge cold front blew through the area bringing twenty plus mile an hour winds out of the northwest. This particular wind direction seems to drain the bay lower than a due north wind, which in turn caused the water levels in the area I chose to fish to be supper low and hard to move around the marsh.
Mistake number two was not checking out the water before game day to at least see how the cold front effected the area. This aspect of tournament fishing is ultra-important, even if you do not catch fish while out. You don’t even need to bring a rod some of the time. Pre-fishing tells you what the water conditions are, how the fish are re-acting to the particular weather/water conditions, and most importantly how big the fish are. Having a full-time job does get in the way at times but if you are planning to fish a tournament then you should really try and get on the water at least two or three days before game time.
Making a game plan the night before game day is always a good thing to do. This step is as important as pre-fishing, and pairing it with pre-fishing can have an even bigger effect on your tournament outcome. Now this can only help if you stick to your plan. It is a lot better to make your decisions off the water when you aren’t worried about anything else. In this particular tournament, I changed my game plan the night before and targeted deeper wholes, which was the wrong thing to do. I eventually resorted back to the original plan and low and behold the fish were there.
Staying cool, calm, and collected in the frustrating moments is what champions are made of, and this is where my day really took a turn for the worst. Once I finally found the fish it was about eleven o’clock and needless to say it was “crunch time.” I would make a bad cast to the fish and spook them, which escalated the frustrations, then having no maneuverability would escalate frustrations causing a chain reaction of bad things. The best thing to do in any situation like this is to put the rod down and just breathe for a minute or two. Nothing will get better if you don’t.
Hopefully the next tournament will be better than the last, it’s what this sport is all about at the end of the day learning, improving, and having fun. Hope to see you out there, tight lines and smooth drag.