Toledo Bend Reservoir
81st Place / 10 fish, 24-02
The Elite Series visited Toledo Bend in 2011 and 2012, and I finished 32nd the first time and 14th the second time. Perhaps more importantly, in those solid finishes I’d managed to combine both deep and shallow presentations, so I felt that I was ready for whatever the lake could throw at me this time. I expected to be in my comfort zone. Unfortunately, those well-laid plans somehow got messed up and I finished 81st overall, my worst performance as an Elite Series pro.
I spent the first day of practice in the northern end of the lake, a zone I’d never fished before. I got a few bites, but not many and they weren’t big. I felt like if I had more time up there I might’ve been able to put something good together, but that would take the remaining two days and I was afraid to take that risk. In other words, that day was kind of a waste as I scratched that part of the lake out of my plans.
The second and third days of practice were spent entirely down the lake where there were still quite a few fish spawning. I figured that I’d be able to combine bed fishing and throwing a swimbait in between the spawners to put something good together. In the end, though, it all fell apart.
The tournament turned out to be a complete grind where I just couldn’t put everything together at the same time. I was in areas where people were catching good bags and I was using techniques that people used to catch good bags, but I wasn’t using the right techniques in the right places. Other people were really catching them and I struggled to put together a limit.
My five for 12-12 had me in 75th after Day One, so I tried to adjust a little bit on Day Two. That was a strategic error – I should’ve changed what I was doing completely, starting fresh. That’s something I’ve generally done well this year, but on this occasion I didn’t trust my gut and fishing conservatively cost me. Adding 11-06 to my total, I fell six places to 81st.
Prior to this event my worst Elite Series finish was 79th last year at the Sabine. I’m not going to say that doing even worse rattled me, but it made me mad and anxious to redeem myself on the water. I probably wouldn’t have as many regrets if I’d listened to my inner voice, and hopefully I’ve learned my lesson. I’m ready to clear my head and make something happen on the water – you don’t learn anything sitting on the couch at home.
The best part of this tournament was the accommodations. I stayed with a friend of Andy Montgomery’s in a house on the lake, eating the finest food known to man. I might’ve fished like a chump, but I lived like a king.