Tournament season about to kick off in Texas

Back in 2012 when I took my shot at fishing professional bass tournaments in the U.S. I really had no idea what to expect or where it would take me. It was something that I had dreamed about since I was a kid so when I got the opportunity, I really wanted to try and enjoy every minute of it and if I caught a few fish, then great.

While I did not light it up by any means in those early years, I did good enough to hang around and as the years went by, I got better and more consistent. For all of the pro events that I’ve fished, we have always had three days to practice before the tournaments start. It’s not a lot of time when you visit a body of water you have never been to before. As the years have gone by, I have gotten to visit most of the popular tournament venues and have developed a routine to cover as much water as I can to try and find fish in these short practices.

This week marks the start of my thirteenth season fishing in the U.S. In all these years, there has only been one other season where we didn’t start in Florida. This year we’re starting in Texas, with back-to-back events starting at Toledo Bend Reservoir this week, followed by a visit to legendary Lake Fork next week. Traditionally, Texas has been good to me so I’m excited to get things going this week.

I have never been to Toledo Bend before so it’s a new adventure for me. It is a massive body of water that is known for consistently kicking out big bass. The hype for this tournament has been building for a while and it’s been mentioned that records could fall this week as we hit it just as warm spring temperatures are starting to hit Texas.

There was another big tournament at Toledo Bend a couple of weeks ago and most of the top finishers in that tournament were throwing a minnow bait on a jig head, a bait that is popular in Northwest Ontario and a bait that I have had a lot of success with in the past, so that is exciting for me. My concern heading into this week is that a lot of the fish will start leaving the deeper water where that technique shines and start heading shallow to think about spawning, we’ll see what happens.

My friend Rennie Balciunas, from Winnipeg, joined me for a few days of bass fishing in Texas last week as I got warmed up for the 2024 tournament season.

I spent a few days getting warmed up in Texas last week on nearby Sam Rayburn Reservoir and it was fun. We caught plenty of fish out deep, so I’m hopeful that they will be doing the same thing this week at Toledo Bend. I have learned over the years though that you have to let the fish tell you what they are doing and what they want. Stubbornness and being unwilling to change what you’re doing is a great way to get your butt kicked. This time of year, as the conditions are changing, fish start to leave their winter locations to head for shallower water. Hopefully I can make some good moves and get on some big bass.

Looking back, getting to fish and make a career out of something I love, I’m very grateful every day. The competition continues to get stronger every year so all I know how to do is work hard and be prepared. I’m looking forward to a great 2024 season. You can follow the tournaments over the next couple of weeks at Bassmaster.com. Hopefully we’ll have a good start to the season.