My second season of the year

Many of my Bassmaster Elite Series colleagues are more or less done competing for the year. A few might still be fishing some of the Bassmaster Opens, but there are just as many who won’t fish much at all.

They may have put their boats away to create more family time and to get ready for other things like hunting season. Others may even be boatless due to selling their tournament boats.

Not me, and not my brother, Chris. We still have a ton of competitive angling left to do. In fact, as I write this I’m getting ready to fish a tournament up here tomorrow, and we’ll have one the next weekend and the weekend after that and so on. 

It’s a chance to supplement our incomes. There’s some good money to be had. Because of our short season you might not be able to make a decent living fishing tournaments exclusively in Canada, but if you get on a little roll you can do pretty well.

This is especially true because of the generosity of the Ranger Cup program, which really helps our bottom line whether we’re fishing as a team or fishing individually. We compete together a lot, but of course there are some tournaments, like the Toyota Series, where we fish with a random co-angler. 

Because the fishing season in Canada is so compressed it takes constant work to stay on top of the fish. We’re fortunate to have plenty of time to practice, and because so much of our fishing is spot-oriented, we have a library of places to rely upon. 

I’m glad that my tournament season hasn’t ended, because if the Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence had been the finale it would have left a bad taste in my mouth. Of course most of the field would have been thrilled with a fourth-place finish, and Taku Ito’s story is truly something to celebrate, but I was frustrated by the way things played out for me. After coming close there several times it hurts not to leave with the blue trophy. 

It’s especially painful because I was around the fish to win. In fact, I knew where they were, but my fish management strategies didn’t work. On the second day of competition I had two separate 5-pounders located on beds that I’m almost positive I could have caught. I even shook one of them off. With those two culls, I would have had enough weight to win.

I made the decision to save them for later in the event just in case things got a little stingy. I could never get the one that I shook off to bite again, and the other one that I didn’t throw on simply disappeared. I didn’t do anything wrong, it was a sound plan, but it just didn’t work out. 

That’s why I’m so glad we’re headed back to the St. Lawrence River next season. I want another bite at that apple. It’s a place that I know extremely well, and the Elite Series will likely never visit a body of water closer to my home. With the border open, if I were to win there it would likely be in front of a lot of friends and family.

At the same time, I’m not sure that I want to wait that long for my first win – after seeing my brother and Gussy win, and watching Seth Feider crush the 2021 Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, I want some of that for myself.

By continuing to fish as late in the year as I can, I feel like I put myself closer to achieving those goals.