As a kid, my parents and teachers told me that it’s important to have goals in life. I took that to heart probably more than most people. There are very few things I do in my life for which I don’t have goals. I have goals for each day when I wake up, goals for each week as I travel or work, and goals for each month of my businesses.
You can bet that I have goals for each tournament fishing season, and the start of a new season is the time that I really tend to look hard at those goals and how I hope to accomplish them.
Last season was frustrating for me. If you followed my tournament performances, that might not surprise you. It wasn’t the season I wanted.
One of my challenges — last year and this year, too — was that I was being pulled in a lot of directions. I had a full plate in 2022. I bet you can identify with that. No matter where I was or what I was doing, it was hard to take my mind off the fact that there was another place I needed to be and another thing that needed to get done.
It even filtered down to my fishing at times. I might be working a main lake point with a crankbait but wondering if I should be in the back of a creek with a jig. Considering the options is good. Being distracted and failing to focus on the situation in front of you is not. Those kinds of distractions are terrible, and they can derail a season.
One of my goals for 2023 is to be more focused, more in-the-moment, and more aware of what I can do rather than what I would do if I was somewhere else. A key to accomplishing that goal will be to simplify my fishing as much as I reasonably can.
I’ve worked really hard throughout my career to become comfortable and capable with a wide variety of baits and techniques. But sometimes less is more, and I think that approach will help me in 2023.
Major League Fishing’s shift from the every-fish-counts format to a five-fish limit will help, too. It’s hard to appreciate the stress of every fish counts unless you’ve fished a tournament with that format. It’s a pressure cooker! If you’re not setting the hook or fighting a fish, you feel like you’re falling behind … probably because you are!
When every fish counts, you really have to expand your list of possible baits and techniques. Finesse lures and methods are always in the mix. Light lines and small (but scorable!) bass are extremely important. If you’re not getting bit — a lot! — you’re losing.
With the five-fish limit, I can breathe a little. It’s a different kind of pressure and one that’s more manageable and easier to plan around.
If I can find a pattern that will give me half a dozen big bites in the early afternoon, I feel good going into a five-fish limit event. If I had the same pattern with every fish counts, I’d be in big trouble.
Another way to think about how the five-fish limit simplifies things is to consider how you might fish a laydown. If it’s every-fish-counts, you’d want to make multiple presentations all around the laydown, hoping to catch every fish there.
With a five-fish limit, I’ll just take my jig and make one pitch right to the heart of the laydown, knowing it gives me the best chance to catch the biggest bass there.
I’m also going to streamline my lure selections and color selections for the year. Carrying dozens of color options can lead to distraction, a loss of focus, wasted time in choosing, and even a lack of commitment to the bait once it’s in the water if you start second-guessing yourself.
Simpler is usually better. Less is sometimes more.
And if we don’t set goals, how will we know if we accomplished anything?