Bigger Picture Brings Lessons Learned
By: Alex Garoutte Kickapoo High School Angler
As my partner and I rounded the bend into Port of Kimberling for the Teen Anglers 2016 State Championship, the sun was just cresting over the trees. Pre-tournament music was blaring, and all the boats were packed into the main cove awaiting the takeoff. Thoughts of our practice day’s successes began to swell in my head. My mind started racing with scenarios of what it would be like winning this weekend. When it was time to take off I was raring to go.
During both days I began to realize that “our” pattern by which we caught three limits the previous week, was the same as everyone else’s. It began to get harder and harder to find a boat slip that hadn’t already been fished. In addition, as the days went along, the docks were also disturbed by vacationers and kids swimming. My patience and confidence began wearing thin not only because the docks were proving to be a challenge, but also because we lost several keeper bass due to a lack of focus on proper hook sets. This resulted in us not going to the scales on day one.
Day Two proved to be a sequel. We did make a change however, by going to another part of the lake. Due to rough water conditions and a long run, the electrical system for the trolling motor failed. The main boot underneath the deck became disconnected. This required us removing a portion of the front deck resulting in a loss of an hour and a half of our fishing time. Day Two’s weigh-in was two hours shorter than Dayy One, also.
Although we felt defeated we were made aware of several underlying facts. In every fishing trip you usually always learn something different whether that be a new technique, how to adjust to different weather and lake conditions, or maybe just using something different on a new part of the lake. I learned how easy it is to lose your focus and confidence when you may be doing everything right but it’s just not going the way you think it ought to. If bass fishing was so easy then everyone would be doing it. The fact is I know that the technique we were using was a good one because the first-, second-, and third-place winners were doing the same thing. Our problem was we were locked into a specific pattern and didn’t adjust or try something different soon enough.
Our experiences during the Teen Anglers Championship in most people’s perspective would be an epic fail, but we learned that bass fishing is very tough when it comes to catching those quality fish consistently. Each day we caught 20 or more fish, all just shy of keeping, and lost six that would have measured. This creates frustration. When that happens, you end up clipping your own wings and losing all focus and track of time. This could cause you to miss opportunities that may produce a quality bite. The truth is, yes I had a pretty rough championship, but I gained vital knowledge that can help ensure my success in the future. In fact, we applied this knowledge two weeks later on the same water and took seventh place in a club tournament. By not locking into one pattern, we used a variety of baits from a shallow topwater bite in the mornings to a deeper bite as the day progressed. When we found a hump on a channel swing, we used our electronics to find the dropoffs on either side and fished a swimbait. This proved successful and another lesson learned.