Each year when the season ends, there’s still plenty of work to do. A big part of that is selling my old boat and getting the new one in and rigging it exactly how I like it. It’s a fun and exciting process, but there’s always a little bit of stress, and most of the time it comes down to the wire as the boat gets done just in time to start the season. I don’t want to be rushed, so I made a point to get things moving earlier this year.
This year, I’m way ahead of schedule. My boat’s almost ready. I’ve been making all my gear orders in advance. I’m organizing all my tackle. I’ve been extra-prepared and have already started ordering the baits I know will be good next August, because if you wait until a few weeks before then, it could be harder to get them.
All this preparation was my goal this offseason. I set a goal to have everything ready to go by Thanksgiving, and it looks like that’s all going to work out. I’ll take the rest of the winter to work on something that’s taken over tournament fishing: forward-facing sonar with my Lowrance ActiveTarget. It’s not going anywhere, and while I feel like I’m good at it, I’m not great at it – and that’s what you need to compete right now.
Right now, the fishing is excellent around home on Lake Guntersville. Trust me, I’d love to be out there fishing in the grass because that’s one of my strong suits. I had to sacrifice and skip that bite this year to spend all of December and January working to get better with ActiveTarget.
My favorite way to fish is flipping and pitching heavy cover, and I do that a lot. I also lean heavily on my electronics when needed, but I need to do it more. I don’t expect to turn into Dakota Ebare and use it all the time, but I plan to incorporate it more into my fishing this upcoming season.
The schedule is a lot different than we’ve had before, with two tidal fisheries and some places that should set up well for my strengths of fishing heavy cover. If I can do well at those and add the forward-facing sonar piece for the others, it could be an excellent year for me.
At the same time, I try to avoid getting caught up with the schedule and where we’re going because you always tend to think about that too much. I always hate to pick a favorite lake on the schedule or have one circled because I feel it falls into my wheelhouse. It’s never going to be as good as you make it out to be in your head. Instead, I’m trying to be more well-rounded as an angler to catch them in any situation next year.
The other big change is going back to the every-fish-counts format. Many of the guys I talk to are all for one or the other, but I’ve become somewhat indifferent to the format. Whenever I did well with every fish counts, I usually had a good five-fish limit, too.
They’re both unique and a challenge in their own ways. If you’re on top of your game and catching fish, you’ll typically end up pretty high on SCORETRACKER® no matter what format you’re fishing. That’s why I’m spending this offseason to work on some things to become the most versatile angler I can be.