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What I've Learned Along The Tournament Trail...

Posted by admin on August 8, 2014

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Tournament fishing is a world of wild ups and downs for the angler that takes it seriously.  I've had my share of the adrenaline explosions as well as my share of gut wrenching failures in a very short period of time.  Every angler from the guy that just likes to fish his weekend club tournament to the tour pros can probably relate. 

The cost of boats, gas, lodging, 54" fishfinders, fancy jerseys, baits that are in excess of 30-40-50 bucks a piece makes you stop and wander, "why do I find this so much fun?"  I started tournament fishing from a very young age. My first event was around the second grade. I'll never forget it.  I fished local pot tournaments with my father up until  8th or 9th grade.  Soon after that I got my first boat and carried it around in the back of my truck to every place that was wet enough to float.  I had a Lowe 1236 jon boat with a 7.5 merc.  I carried the whole outfit in the back of my midsized pickup and assembled the get up at the ramp or riverside.  I thought I was big time! I would just get lost in the simple adventure of fishing how ever long I wanted. It didnt matter if I caught 10 or never set the hook at all. The only thing I wanted to do is fish.  After graduation from high school i bough my dad's bass boat.  It was a pretty snazzy rig for a 19 year old at the time. It was a 19ft Winner tournament 2000.  Now I was sure to be a tournament threat I thought!  I joined a small bass club and even fished a event in Alabama called Angler's Paradise.  I quickly started to learn little tricks about how to catch bass in ways I always wanted to learn but never had the equipment to do so with.  After about a year I started to win a few of my club tournaments. I could'nt have felt more purposeful!  I fished every chance I got. It didnt matter if it was 2hrs or from daylight to midnight. I was just satisfied with having the resources to  excercise whatever talent the Lord had blessed me with.  Soon after this I started to step up my level of competition.  I entered a couple of bfl's. I was always told that the bfl's was were the areas best anglers would compete.  After a few rough events at first I started to learn my way around some of our local lakes and had some good finishes.  After about 2 yrs I got my first "W" and I thought, "oooohhh boy I'm going pro any minute!!!"  It was'nt to long after that a couple of my friends, who shared the same passions as me, actually became full time touring pros. I thought to myself, surely my day is around the corner, it was'nt. A very long story short, I started to compare my talents to my friends and those who were around me and I became very doubtful of how I measured up. Fishing became a burden.  Everytime I would have a bad bfl or everstart it really weighed heavy on my heart.  I'd beat myself up for no reason.  All that changed on one specific day at Lake Chicamauga in the fall of 2011. I'll never forget it.  This year was one of my better bfl years and I even lead the points race for a while. I thought to myself this is my year! My ship has come.  Well at the regional that year I blanked!!! Not a single keeper bass!!! Depression set in immediately. I thought to myself, "just fish club tournaments and forget this stuff."  One of my roomates made the all-american that year.  He probably doesnt know it but he said something that changed the way I've looked at fishing every since then. At the dinner table that night after I blanked and he caught 20lbs he inadvertantly gave me a pep talk.  He said, " I stop beating myself up when I do bad". Shoot everybody else is already doing that so why join em. It was as simple as that! He kept moving on but that statement has stuck with me.  Now, has it made me turn professional? Not at all!!!  But what it did do is make me remember why I started and how fun it use to be when I first started. No way will I waste those days of loading that boat up in the back of my truck because I had a bad day.  What ever happened that day has made me enjoy my good days more and taught me how to learn from my terrible tournaments.  In this game, bad days are inevitable.  This does'nt mean give up when it's bad.  What it means is- 1. Dig deeper when its bad. 2. It's Okay everybody drives the "suck truck" now and then. 3. Don't be so dern serious!!!! Lighten up enjoy the fact that you actually have resources to compete at all.  We all started fishing because we thought it was fun. We all thought it was a "Great Escape".  Don't lose that teenager mentallity when your on the water or just coming off.  It's not worth quiting because you had a bad tournament.  Of course I'm not KVD or A-Mart or whomever your favorite angler may be. I just wanted to share a little of what made me enjoy fighing tournaments better.