Where to begin….. Mark Twain was an interesting lake to say the least. The water had dropped 30 feet in the past two weeks prior to arrival. Leaving the lake as all rock and no variation other than depth changes. This was all new and foreign to me. However with some of the research I put in I was looking for some key features, but mainly long extended points into the main lake.
Two days of prefixing, I found fish and pretty quick on a few different patterns, but would they hold is always the question I have. I found fish on pitching jigs tailed with a Berkley Chigger Craw. I found them with a Googan Baits Bandito bug, and I even got a few bites on a TRD Craw by Z-Man.
Come tournament morning I showed up to a ramp in the Northwest part of the lake with a few other anglers there as well. I launched at go time, got to my spot, and anxiously awaited lines in. I started casting to the point I caught my biggest fish on in practice with no avail. I started to panic. I worked my way around the point and then finally connected with a 15” fish. Shortly after I had 3-15+” fish on the board. Then nothing…. I worked to some different areas and finally connected again right at the boat. I got lucky, but I’ll take it I told myself. Fished on and ended up missing my 5th fish. I started to scramble even more. No bites for the next hour, so I felt it was time to move to a different section of the lake.
As I drove to ramp two I started second guessing myself. Id this the right choice? At this point there is no real turning back. I am committed . I pulled into the ramp and instantly noticed all the kayaks in the area, and figured I should be able to get my 5th fish and lock in a top 10 spot. Well that thought went on to make me struggle even more. Cast after cast and no tug on the other end. I felt doomed, defeated, and just almost conquered as the clock wore down. I ended up short a 5th fish for a 20th place finish.
The mental anquish of competitive fishing is a struggle for myself, and many other anglers as well. Sometimes I let the AOY points race get to me, the wanting to finish good, and just come in with a limit of fish. I start to worry about all these things, and I end up forgetting about the most important part. Fishing! I get so focused one the other things, and I stop thinking about the fishing aspect of things. I need to change baits, look for different structures, and just relax and do what I know how to do. I think if you can just go out and fish, and forget about all the other things, this my friends will consistently put you at the top, and make you one of the best anglers out there.
So next time you are in a tournament, just go out there and fish, and enjoy what you love doing. The rest of it won’t be too far behind. Tight lines and smooth paddlin!