Tough start in season opener

It was not the start to the Bassmaster Elite Series season that I was hoping for this past weekend at the St. John’s River in Florida. After two days of fishing, I landed myself a 61st-place finish in the 75-angler field.
It was a really rough first day, when I only managed to put two bass in the boat and found myself sitting in 69th place. Day 2 went better as I wrangled up a five-fish limit weighing 14 pounds, nine oz. to save a few points at least.
It is a nine-event season on the Elite Series, with the goal being to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic tournament–the championship event after the season. Much like when I fished the FLW Tour, we get points based on where we finish in each event which determines the year-end standings.
The goal is the make the top 40 in points to qualify for the Classic.
It was a disappointing tournament for me, especially because there were so many giant fish caught. The big fish of the event was an 11-pound, two-oz. giant caught on the first day be John Crews.
I simply didn’t find a hot area to fish and was forced to just keep looking around in the tournament, which usually is never a good thing. Many of the anglers who did well were fishing in the same general area where it sounds like a bunch of big bass moved up shallow to get ready to spawn.
My two Canadian buddies, Chris and Cory Johnston, did well in this event and both made the top 10, including a second-place finish by Chris. 73-year-old Rick Clunn, one of the greatest bass tournament anglers of all time, ended up winning the event, which was pretty amazing.
It really proves that there is no age limit to fishing.
This was not my first bad tournament nor will it be my last. That’s the nature of what I’m doing. The good news is we’re right back at it this week at Lake Lanier in Georgia.
About seven hours north of the St. John’s River, we went from fishing in tropical weather last week to fishing in below freezing temperatures this week.
I fished a tournament at Lake Lanier last year and did well, so I’m excited about it. Hopefully, I can put together a good event and get the season on the right track.
Lanier has deep, clear water and is one of the best spotted bass lakes in the world. The fishing last year was similar to how we fish for smallmouths around home in the fall so I was comfortable fishing here.
After a day on the water at Lanier, it became evident that things are not the same this year as they were last year, so I have a challenge to keep looking around for bass and make sure I don’t fall into the trap of fishing what worked last year.
The tournament starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday.
After being on the road for since mid-January, I’m looking forward to getting back to Sunset Country next week to see my friends, family, and do some ice-fishing.
I picked the right time to be away with all of the cold weather that dropped on Northwestern Ontario; hopefully the really cold stuff is done for this year!