The roller-coaster of fishing

The highs of competing in sports are a big part of the appeal to why we participate in them. It feels good to win, whether as part of a team or individually.
Of course, for every winner, there is always a loser–often many of them. Sometimes pride can be taken from a hard-fought loss but sometimes the feeling after a loss is helplessness.
At the second stop of the Bassmaster Elite Series this past weekend at Lake Lanier in Georgia, I went through a roller-coaster of emotions that were pretty crazy. As I mentioned in last week’s column, I had been excited for months leading up to this event after having a good tournament here during the same timeframe last year.
Things went to plan on the first day of the tournament, when I caught five spotted bass that weighed 19 pounds, two oz. to lead the 75-angler field. It was a great day. The feeling after the weigh-in was finished, and I was the leader, was pretty awesome.
I had high expectations for this lake and was happy I got the job done. As such, my confidence was high heading into the second day of the four-day event.
I felt proud heading out with the lead on Day 2, especially after struggling in the first event down in Florida. Yes, things were back on track. I arrived at my first spot and immediately caught a small bass that was just under the 14-inch minimum size.
I fished there a little longer but didn’t catch anything, then moved on to spot two. Still nothing. Stop three, four, and five also did not produce so I moved from fishing the deep humps that had been productive the day before to fishing shallower.
The weather had changed from being sunny on Day 1 to dark clouds on Day 2, so I felt like I might have to change things up a little bit but that it wouldn’t take long before I ran into some fish.
Alas, another couple of hours went by and still no bites. By around lunch time, the feelings of confidence and pride were being replaced with doubt and humiliation. I had a live camera rolling in my boat, with thousands of people watching me fall apart.
Eventually I finally caught a keeper which provided some relief. Up until around lunch time, I still had plenty of confidence that I would land on a spot where I could catch some fish relatively quickly. But as I went through more and more of my spots, it became more apparent that I was running out of time before my 3:30 p.m. check-in time.
At around 2 p.m., I caught a second fish on one of my deep spots. I started to see more fish on my sonar, which was what I was looking for all day. But instead of dropping my jig down and catching the fish, I was dropping it down and getting denied.
For the last hour, I raced around trying make it happen and I never had another bite. It was painful. It was embarrassing to show up at the dock with two small bass even though every single one of my peers have had days like that in the past, as well.
I know that many of my friends at home were watching and pulling for me, so it was disappointing to let everybody down–even though I know they still will cheer for me no matter how I do.
I ended up dropping to 48th place, which missed the top-35 cut to fish the third day, as well as make some money. It hurt at this lake because I really enjoy fishing here and I had high expectations.
That is the thing about fishing, you just never know. One day you find them and you’re a hero, the next day they evade you. It’s the most humbling activity I know of.
After being on the road for more than a month, I’m ready to get home to Sunset Country and regroup. The next tournament is in early April at Lake Hartwell, S.C., so I’ll get some time at home to relax and do some ice-fishing.
I will be back!

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