Tournament fishing is a strange game. Sometimes you zig when you should have zagged and sometimes you make all the right decisions based on the information you have and it’s still wrong. Last week’s B.A.S.S. Open on the Harris Chain was certainly one of those tournaments for me.
I said in a previous blog that this tournament was going to be one that depended on making a lot of decisions and making all of them correctly. Since the Harris Chain is made up of a string of 10 lakes, the first decision that had to be made was where to fish in the limited amount of practice time available.
Since I’d made the trip to this chain of lakes before and had a top 15 finish, I felt pretty good about that decision. I’d spent all three tournament days that trip in Big Lake Harris and since we were here in the same time frame, I expected to do the same thing again. The first day of practice seemed to confirm that decision, so I spent two days there and built what I thought was a pretty dependable pattern fishing docks.
Since the tournament was launching out of Dora, I spent my third practice day there, primarily with the intention of finding someplace to fish when I got back before each day’s weigh-in. The last time I was here, the tournament ended up being won in Dora, so I knew there were some pretty good fish there. I’d missed the last time I was there and I was determined to find some of them this trip. I ended up getting a few bites and even accidently stuck one that weighed a little over 9 pounds. This fish, along with another one about 4 pounds, convinced me that the quality was better in Dora. Since I would have about 2 hours more fishing if I stayed there and avoided the idle zones in the canals, I made the decision to start the tournament there.
I knew I wasn’t on a bite that was good enough to win, but I felt like I could catch 10-12 pounds a day which would probably be good enough for a finish in the money and start the year off really well. And after day 1, I thought that I was correct. I ended up with 4 fish, weighing 9-4 and I’d had a 2.5 pounder pull off at the boat, so I was dead on what I expected to do.
Day 2 is where the wheels came off. Overnight, it seems like every fish in the lake decided to move shallow and into the grass where I hadn’t managed to put anything together all week. I had a few bites, but only managed to put one keeper in the boat, so I fell from 68th to 109th in the standings.
Looking back, it’s easy to see some things that I could have done differently. Once I found my dock pattern, I probably should have spent the next two days finding a way to catch them in the grass rather than expanding the dock pattern. That would have given me a backup pattern when the fish moved. I started the week convinced the fish would move back shallow as the water warmed but gave up that conviction when it didn’t happen over the 4 practice days.
Sticking with my original though process might have resulted in a different outcome but sometimes you have to adapt and sometimes you have to be stubborn and stick with what’s working. The ability to make those choice correctly more times than not, is what separates the great fishermen from the not so great. But having that knowledge and being able to act on it are often hard to do. I still feel like I made the correct decision this time and it just didn’t work out.
All I can do is move on, look forward to next month at Lewisville and hope to do better there. After all, I got to fish a week in Florida in January, caught a 9+ pound bass and spent a lot of time doing what I love. You can’t complain about that!
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.