Practice for REDCREST 2022 Presented by Costa starts tomorrow, and I’m excited. I think all the competitors are excited! This is our championship, and it only comes around once a year, so the opportunity and stakes are magnified. Miss a chance, and you have to wait 12 months before you get another.
Because the tournament is on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees here in my home state of Oklahoma, preparing is a little easier than if it was far from home. I’ll do less map study because I know the lake really well.
Another thing I like about fishing close to home is that I’m not just watching weather reports, I’m actually living the weather. What I feel when I walk outside is what I’d feel on Grand. The water temperature on my pond is going to be similar to what it is on Grand (though probably not quite as warm). From air and water temperatures to wind and to sunshine, I think it’s a neat deal to be experiencing the same things as you’d experience if you were on the tournament waters. I won’t have to get in my truck and pull my boat for hours and hours to get in touch with the weather at the tournament site.
I’m also in touch with things like rain and runoff. I’ll be more aware because it’s all around me. Grand Lake is not in my backyard, but it’s close enough that I can feel that connection.
I think that’s a slight advantage for me and the other local anglers. I think it helps us stay in touch with the mood of the fish and the stage of the annual cycle that they’re in. One thing I know it does for me is to gives me a feel for the retrieve speed that’s likely to be most effective. I already have an idea of that retrieve speed in my head. It gives me a more solid place to start than if I was traveling to a different weather situation where I might need to spend a lot of time getting dialed in.
Of course, there are also disadvantages when you’re fishing close to home and other anglers are coming in from far away. But rather than think of them as disadvantages, I tend to think of them as small hurdles that I know I can overcome just by staying aware.
One of those hurdles is having preconceived notions of where the fish will be and what they’ll be doing. If I’m not careful, I could spend a lot of time trying to force the fish to bite a certain bait type or to be in a certain area where I expect them to be. Even though I know Grand well, and I’m living the weather, I still need to let the fish tell me what they want, where they want it and how they want it.
Another challenge of a big home-water tournament like REDCREST is time management. When you’re on the road, somehow there are fewer distractions, fewer things you have to do or need to do. With the championship here in Oklahoma, I have a lot of family that will be attending events, and I’d love to spend time with them. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do that. I need to stay focused on the competition. I know they understand because they know what this week will be like for me. We’ve been through some big tournaments here in the past.
When I finally get on the water for our practice period — Sunday and Monday — I need to check out the lake, look at things like water color and temperature, and finalize my game plan. Personally, I hope the fish are not on the banks. If I can catch them offshore, I think that will be to my advantage.
I hope to have some time to meet fans at the REDCREST Outdoor Sports Expo after competition ends on Friday and Saturday, but everything depends on how the days play out and how much time I’ll need to get ready for the next rounds. If I can get away, I will!
If you’re attending, please stop by the E2 Pecans booth (#726). We’ll have pecans, caps, T-shirts, and other stuff for sale. We’ll also have a spin-to-win wheel with prizes like tires from General Tire plus caps, jerseys, dry bags, stickers and more from my sponsors. And if you’d like to get your picture taken with my REDCREST or Bassmaster Classic trophies, you can do that, too.
I hope to see you in Tulsa! Be sure to check out the REDCREST Expo at Expo Square, March 25-27.