Ever Have one of THOSE DAYS!!!! By phishenfool
Ever Have One of Those days?
With a title like that it must be a good day...Wrong. Suddenly you get slammed and you set the hook hard. You feel the weight of the fish and it is good fish, the kind you need to win the tournament. The water where you set the hook begins to oscillate creating a miniature tsunami against the tulles. Excitement fills the boat. You are not concerned about this fish breaking you off because you were prepared. Your rod is spooled with 50lb braid connected to a top shot of 15lb fluorocarbon and cinched down to a super-line 4/0 EWG with Palomar knot. You have hauled in 3 pounders with 20lbs of weeds on this set-up regularly. It is a for sure thing. All of a sudden the fish gets wrapped around an isolated tulle patch and she is flailing on her side. You now see that she is in the five to six pound class range and a sense of urgency rushes over you. You kick the trolling motor on high, yell for your partner to come up to the front with the net as you keep steady tension on the fish. You are almost with the nets reach when all of a sudden she is gone. Some choice explicative follow. Bewildered and distraught you reel in your bait. To your astonishment your bait and hook are still attached to your un-nicked line. All equipment is fine. Disappointed you press forward optimistic that the first bite was signs of bass feeding shallow. You pull up to the next spot. Tick-tick, set, and it is as if someone pressed instant replay on the DVR.
For me this same scenario played out all day long for the duration of the tournament. I took a gamble and I did not capitalize on the returns that were presented to me. To make matters worse the pattern I was on made it extremely difficult for my partner to effectively fish behind me. As a result, my partner only got one bite all day and upon hooking the fish, it instantly died. When we got to the scales and saw what it took to win, without a word he gave me a look that I will never forget. For in that moment we realized that if I could have at least only brought four of the eight fish that I hooked into to the boat, we would have won by a margin of 3-4lbs. Instead we came into third to last.
The drive home was relatively silent. He could tell that I was extremely disappointed in myself. Even more so I felt like I let him down in my poor performance on the water. And to make matters worse. my performance on this tournament caused the AOY race to completely slip out of our hands. Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, but reflecting back on the events that transpired, I knew from the minute we pulled up to our first spot that I felt like something was askew.
Do you ever have one of those days where the minute you make the first cast, you realize that something or you, yourself is just off?
Marty from MP Night fishing calls it bad Ju-Ju, others call it bad luck, I call it a Karma day. It seems like over the last few years, I have approximately two Karma days a year. However, my most recent Karma Day was my first experience in a tournament. Mentally these days are extremely tough for me especially if I am on a dry spell of big fish. But in this most recent event I found that when money is on the line it is worse. Fortunately this recent episode, came while I had been on what I consider a big fish streak and my overall confidence has been high. These kinds of days can be mentally tough and I can't begin to imagine how a prolonged series of days like this would have on my fishing psyche.
I want to discuss how to rebound from the day(s) where you can do no right. First off there is no right or wrong answer for moving though an outing(s) such as this. In the past, I have sat down on the boat and regrouped for a half an hour while my partner runs the front. This method can work well when fun fishing and money is not on the line. However, when I am fishing a place like the Delta that fishes to my strengths and my partner does not have the equipment, experience and or confidence in the presentation required to pick my slack and get the job done, this method will simply not work. In situations like this there is no easy answer.
Looking back it, on the day I should have succeeded the front to him and adjust to partner's strengths. It was obvious that I could not get the job done. To win the tournament with all things that occurred I needed to adjust sooner. Again hindsight is 20-20, but should I have adjusted our plan of approach to fish to my partner's strengths we may not have won the tournament but we could have still been in possible contention for the AOY title.
In the case of my partner's strengths, we could have adjusted to throwing spinner baits on rip-rap or working the outside weed line with drop shots. Rather than fishing heavy isolated cover that requires precision casting and difficult boat positioning which in turn reduced the amount of time that both baits were in productive water. It is never clear when to make this kind of adjustment. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep an open line of communication with your partner and build trust. More importantly, knowing when to ask for your partner's help in picking up the slack in your performance is half the battle.
As we got closer to getting home, I could sense that we needed some redemption. We made the decision to go the next day to a whole new body of water and fish completely different baits. Essentially, we needed to erase the cobwebs from the day before and get back the confidence we had as a team. Fortunately, for us we had a far better day on Sunday than Saturday. The bites were few and far between but we got the right bites and had three fish for +15lbs. Sometimes, it takes measures beyond the actual Karma Day to move on. It mine and my partners case, starting fresh the next day was exactly what we needed to re-establish trust and confidence in our ability to fish as a team.