I’ll be the first to say that my season hasn’t begun the way I had hoped that it would. My preparation and my mental attitude has proved need for growth and that is exactly what I will do to prepare for the next event in the BFL Shenandoah Division on the Potomac River June 14th. I will use tournament recaps to briefly discuss the event and provide some reflection that goes on in a Co-Angler’s mind during and after tournaments. Keeping a similar tournament journal will help you to develop seasonal patterns, bait selection, and keep connected with fishing partners that could provide valuable information towards solving the puzzle.
Event 1: Smith Mountain Lake
Date: April 12
Weight: 2-06 (1)
Place: 65 of 143
At Smith Mountain Lake, I feel that I put on my best effort and had a good day over-all mechanically. Prior to the tournament, I had taken the time to fine tune my reels to what I had planned to throw and for that I had fished proficiently throughout the day. In the last few hours of fishing, I unfortunately hooked a shaky head fish from under a dock and as the fish came from the dock jumped and spit my hook. I caught three short fish and successfully landed the 2-06 earlier in the day that I weighed in, swinging the bass into the boat in a fit of excitement. Man, is it a good feeling or what to know that you get to add points on the season!
What had I learned in this tournament?
1) No matter the outcome of the event, time on the water is most appreciated with boaters who give you the time of day and who are willing to share valuable information with their Co-Angler. In this case, BFL Boater Chris Murphy (murphangler.com) was generous enough to share his beautiful Skeeter boat with me and little did I know, we had numerous common acquaintances. Things are intimidating enough being placed on a boat with someone you have never met in your life, but it is the common love of fishing that binds us all to each other. Bad news travels fast, so leave any character flaws at the launch.
2) Never let your guard down, not for ONE second! After hooking the fish that could have moved me up the leader board, the wise decision would have been to keep the rod at a horizontal angle to keep the most pressure on the fish. Unfortunately, when the fish came up and jumped I had lost the pressure on the line and the slack allowed the bass to spit my Shaky head with a Culprit 5” T-Rex Worm. Although tougher the shallower the area, when you feel the bass heading towards the surface quickly put your rod tip to the water to deter the bass from jumping. It will help you catch the flighty fish willing to jump like an Asian Carp startled by motors.
3) As friend and former college fishing partner Charles Parrish used to always emphasize to me, the Co-Angler game is a game of numbers. As long as you are catching fish in each tournament it will carry you a long way towards qualifying for the regional. When you are upset with your finish, know that it can always be worse. In the first event of the BFL Shenandoah Division, 50 of the 143 Co-Anglers weighed a bag of (0-0). That’s more than a third of the field! In a humbling sport like bass fishing, don’t get too high on the highs or too low in your lowest moments. Your worst moments may be some of your best learning experiences.