I won the first tournament of the season, and along with it a new kayak and personal record five-pound spotted bass - a record I had been chasing for a couple years. I also added a couple second-place finishes, two other spotted bass, and a smallmouth over five pounds. I’ve never been one to brag or feel that I am better than anyone else, but I am one who never stops or slows down for the moment. I’m always excited and in a rush, pushing on to the next big thing. That can be the next cast, the next laydown, the next bend in the river, the next tournament, or the next experience in life. I overlook a lot of important things and rush on through. Thoroughness has never been my nature, and my fishing is the same. I never sit and work that shoal or laydown like I should. I bust through it with a swimbait and move on to the next. And God help me if there is another angler in the area; I speed up another notch.
Those overlooked details can have some serious consequences. If I had slowed down in Tennessee, I would have been able to take some mighty fine photos of my personal best smallmouth. And if I had slowed down to measure my fish carefully, it would have hit that next quarter-inch mark and given me another win and another kayak. But I just slapped the fish on the board, got my pictures, blasted through to the next shoal, and was left with some so-so photos and a “coulda-woulda-shoulda” second-place finish. In Alab
ama, I had one of the best swimbait bites I have ever experienced. I culled four fish over seventeen inches and caught some of the prettiest spotted bass I have ever seen. Did I stop to run some cool video? Did I stop and get some great photos? Nope - I just rushed through jacking as many jaws as humanly possible, and hit the takeout with tons of time to spare. If I didn’t rush so, I probably would have had the best swimbait cast-to-catch video compilation in my life. I also would have had some great photos that I had more than enough time to take. I probably would have sealed the deal on that last, giant spotted bass that likely would have approached six pounds, been the summation of a lifelong dream, and would have culled me into first place. But I didn’t. I made a quick cast, had an eye on the next shoal section, and didn’t get the hooks into it well enough.
If I would ever learn to slow down, take care of what’s important, take one step at a time, and handle all my business, I would likely have stopped and uploaded the 52” of Coosa River spotted bass I had on my camera to the River Bassin “submit fish” form. If I would ever learn to slow down, I would have zipped up my wader pocket after my wife called to check in on me. Better yet, I would have put my phone in my nice dry box. I probably would have culled one of the short fish I had and made that push for River Basser of the Year. But I didn’t. I hurried through, looking for that next shoal to toss a bait. I hung my Jackson Kayak “Big Rig” up on rock, hopped out to push it across, slipped, and sent my kayak downriver, forcing me to jump in and grab the rear handle. My phone got soaked and zapped my virtual stringer, leaving me cold, wet, and out of time and fish. I held a portion of first place in the River Bassin series for almost the entirety of the season, but lost everything with a simple careless mistake.
Humble pie has a harsh bite, and an even worse aftertaste that can linger for weeks. It is a tough thing to swallow, but you learn a lot about yourself when you get chewed up by your own emotions and spit out the other side. I beat myself up for a good long while. “Why did this have to happen?” “Why did I have to lose it all in the end?” I had to learn the hard way that running helter-skelter, leaving the pieces to fall how they may, and overlooking those fine details you chose to overlook can really cost when the time comes to pay. So, I took a long look at myself and made some changes to make myself a better person and angler. Here I sit, preparing for the 2015 season on the River Bassin Trail. I have high hopes for more wins and more personal bests. Maybe I will catch that six- pound spot or smallmouth, or land that eight- pound largemouth. Maybe I will win the National Championship or River Basser of the Year. Either way, I plan on slowing down, taking care of those details, enjoying time with friends, getting that perfect photo or video, and loving life on the water!