The 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series has been as tough a year as I think I’ve ever seen since I’ve been fishing professionally.
The weather has been awful. It’s the kind that tests man and equipment. And that doesn’t even get into the fact that my finishes haven’t been anywhere near where I’d like them to be, with the exception of the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia.
The bad weather isn’t just over the Elite tournaments, however. We’ve had bad storms here at home in North Carolina. I know it’s summertime and storms go with the territory but not the ones as bad as we’ve been having. It seems like it’s everywhere.
We’re professionals and we’re expected to meet and deal with tough conditions. But, I don’t know if there’s ever been a year when two tournaments were cancelled and one of them couldn’t even be rescheduled.
With everybody fighting this I think it’s the right time to make mention of safety. If a body of water is too nasty for professionals to fish, it’s probably too nasty for anyone to fish. Keep that in mind. No matter how bad you want to catch a fish don’t take chances. It isn’t worth it.
When I say that I’m not talking about muddy water. I’m talking about high winds and drift. It’s a matter of common sense.
Here’s the thing that I saw up at the Bassmaster Elite at Upper Chesapeake Bay: The wind was blowing, the water was orange and the drift was big and all over the place. That is a bad combination.
When the water is slick and maybe not quite so muddy you can see drift and avoid most of it. But, when there’s a chop on the water and it’s orange, you can’t see stuff until you’re on top of it and then it’s too late.
Those conditions will wear an angler out in no time. For me at least, when I get tired I don’t always make the best decisions. I’m guessing a lot of other guys are the same way. Experience helps, but it doesn’t take care of everything.
Those conditions take a toll on your tackle and equipment, too. This year I hit a rock — really hard — when I was running along pretty good, and I can’t count how many logs and stumps I’ve run into and bounced off of left or right.
Thankfully, however, I haven’t hurt myself, my hull or my motor. I’m telling you those Evinrude E-TEC G2 250 H.O. outboards are tough as nails. When I hit that rock I thought I was in trouble, for sure, but it didn’t do a thing to the lower unit.
When I came in that night I looked over at the maintenance crew. They were sitting there with nothing to do other than help the other crews, just like usual. I wasn’t sure whether I should feel sorry for them — you can only take so many naps — or be jealous of them.
I wish my body held up like my equipment.
Don’t get over excited this year. The bad weather will pass, and you’ll be able to fish another day.