By Steve Graf
If you’re a sports fan, then you know each sport has “gods” that oversee and influence the outcome of a particular game. These would be former players who have passed on and come before all those that are playing today…players who helped make the sport what it is with their high level of play that made them legends of the sport. So many times, the gods are blamed for someone’s successes or failures. Well, tournament bass fishing is no different. Triton would probably be the number one fishing god of our sport today, but then there are a few who recently passed that might be considered as gods of the bass fishing world. Some of these would be the late Ray Scott (the founder of B.A.S.S. organization) and Forrest Wood (the founder of Ranger Boats,) as well as legendary anglers Guido Hibdon, Ricky Green, Dee Thomas, and Aaron Martens. Each of these guys would be considered for godly status due to their impact on the bass fishing world.
Now that we are well into the 2023 tournament fishing season, the fishing gods have not been very kind to me. Anglers are always looking for something or someone to blame for their lack of success. Most of the time it’s the weather; it’s either too windy, too cold, too hot or the water level is dropping or rising, too much fishing pressure, the excuses go on and on. Very seldom is it our fault as anglers, because we’re too dang good to not figure out how to catch a bass on any given body of water….right? Wrong!!! How can a little green fish with a brain the size of a penny outsmart us anglers who have made it life’s ambition to go out and catch largemouth bass every single time we go fishing?
For me, the 2023 season has been rough so far as we head into the summer months. I have not competed well at all, especially on bodies of water that I have a lot of experience. A good example for me would be the Red River. This is a body of water in which I’ve had success and have been very competitive, not only with high finishes but wins as well. But last month at the Ray Scott National Championship, the Red River was not very good to me.
After day one I weighed just shy of 11 pounds and was sitting in 15th place, right where I needed to be to make the final day cut into the top 25. Day two was another story as I came in with just two fish and missed the cut by 1.5 pounds. All I had to do was weigh a five-bass-limit on day two and I would have been in the top ten heading into the final day, giving me a shot at another Red River victory. Now that doesn’t sound like it should be that hard, but once again the fishing gods must have been angry with me for some reason. On day two I had six fish hooked up and headed for the boat when, for no apparent reason, they just came off! Frustrated, angry, and downright ticked off, the day two weigh-in may have been one of my most embarrassing weigh-ins ever. After all, I was one of the favorites to win this event and could not even make the final day cut!
So, on the long one-hour drive home that day, I kept asking myself….why? Why was I not able to land those fish and catch my five-fish- limit and make it to the final day? Was it my technique, dull hooks, or poor hook-sets? How was it that I failed to get those six fish in the boat? Then it hit me…the fishing gods; they were the reason I did not make it to day 3 of this championship event! But why were they angry with me? What had I done wrong as an angler for them to unleash such punishment on what might have been the biggest event of my fishing career in my own backyard?
Then to make matters worse, the same thing happened one week later at Sam Rayburn when I weighed the smallest limit of fish I’ve ever weighed-in on that body of water. Now my frustration was compounded, and I was so angry that I could have stripped naked and run through a briar patch and felt no pain! Why was this happening to me?
To wrap this up, every angler, no matter how good, will at some point go through difficult times that just can’t be explained. All the preparation and planning do not always guarantee success. Tournament bass fishing is a funny and humbling sport that sometimes defies explanation. Tournament anglers have a saying that really is true: “When it’s your turn to win, it’s your turn and nothing you do will screw it up.” I think this is where the fishing gods come into play…when they want you to win, they will make sure you win.
Till next time, good luck, good fishing, and always say an extra prayer each night to the fishing gods if you want to be successful. Also, don’t forget your sunscreen! Take it from me, Melanoma is real and will strike when you neglect your protection.