Just when you think you have it all figured out, reality sets in and it feels like you are going back to square one. Tournament fishing for most of us is like that. We are on a roll and then, BAM, it’s over. There was a point in my so called career where I had it figured out on my home lake. Cashing checks and winning every now and then was the norm. Now, it seems like I couldn’t even catch a fish in a pay lake. Times change, fish move, fishermen become better, old honey holes no longer produce, and so on. So the million dollar question is this, “How do I get out of this slump?” I don’t have all the answers but I do have a few suggestions on how I have handled it.
First off, do not think you are invincible. Yes, confidence is key but there are wolves chasing you all the time and they are hungry. Realize that you have to adapt to either your lake or fishing pressure differently than you do now. Advancements in technology helps anglers become better in a short amount of time. It used to take years on the water, now it takes a week to figure out where they are. So, outsmart the competition. Try different approaches, and yes try to learn new techniques.
No excuses! The fish didn’t leave the lake. You may just be fishing it the wrong way. On my home lake the traditional brush piles that held good bass are no longer. We have grass growing in ten to twelve feet of water now so there is no reason for a bass to leave it. Last year I refused to believe that and got it handed to me over and over. This year I started out the same way and came in with a big fat 0 in the first event. I finally had enough and went out and did something different and guess what, I caught fish and ended up third. I fished grass edges with a Strike King Magnum Cut-R worm instead of going deep with a crankbait or big jig. I didn’t want to do it at first, but after two quick keepers in the boat, my mind quickly changed.
A fish’s brain is small. We obviously are much more intelligent than they are so why are we over complicating fishing? I tend to over think things too much when in reality it’s just a fish. I started fishing tournaments with two junky rods and a small tackle box full of worms and old crankbaits and caught them just as good as I do now. Just fish! It sounds dumb but that’s really all it is.
Start having fun again. I am a fierce competitor and hate losing but I started this whole tournament deal because I loved it. We tend to let that slip away over time. Start getting it back. Fish because you love it, not because you have to win a check. Things will slowly turn back around in your favor.
In my mind, my Uncle Paul is still one of the best fisherman I know. Now in his late 70’s he still does well in tournaments. He can’t read a graph, he doesn’t have the best boat, his hook set is worse than my daughters, but somehow always manages to catch them. And the answer is simple, he just goes fishing.
Tournament fishing is alike a roller-coaster. Ride the ups and downs and never give up. Make it fun again and go catch them.