Summer fishing is tough. It is hot, the weather is unpredictable, and the fish can be too.
You never know what you will need because the fish and the water can be so finicky, you may need to go deep and into wide open water one day, and then hit the banks the next. So, if fishing over the last 40 years has taught me anything is that no matter the day, the weather, or the location, you will always experience a bad day sometimes.
We have seen it all before. There are masters of the trade, like Rick Clunn, David Fritz, and Gerald Swindle that just have bad days on the water. No matter what you throw, those fish just won’t bite, or something happens that causes you to lose the fish. I have seen fish swim up to the boat and spit the hook out. I picture them swimming away and laughing at us. If we could predict every action those fish would take, there would be a lot more weight brought into the weigh in. But, if you have watched any of the Bassmaster Elite Series or the Opens, you will know that there are some tournaments that are won by ounces not always pounds and several of those nail-biter endings can result from an angler who has had a bad day.
I just wrapped up the Elite event on the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY. I went into the St. Lawrence competition feeling good. I fished there last year and had a plan. I knew where I needed to go, and I knew what I needed to tie on. Unfortunately, due to covid-19, the body of water I was counting on was off limits. We were unable to fish Canadian waters, which of course is where my fish were. I knew right when the new location was decided for our take off, I would have to put in extra hours on the water to find the fish I needed to make the cut.
We had three and half days to practice. The first 3 days were brutal. The whole field fought 40 mph winds and five-foot waves. The water was rough, but I stuck it out, reformulated my plan, and on the last day of practice, I found what I thought was the right strategy.
When competition started, I found the fish, but the fish did not cooperate at all. I did everything right. I had the right tackle. All my rods were spooled with the right Sunline. My Xpress X21 was ready to go, and my maps were ready. Even the weather was cooperating. Sadly, there were several large ones that I just could not capitalize on. This time was not my time.
This time the fish won. This time, I picked myself up, dusted off my Cashion Rods, polished my Yamaha 250Sho, and headed to Lake Champlain, where I get to do it all over again. If you are fishing competitively or just for fun, we all experience this. You never know when you will have a bad day, but what you do after that is what counts. If you look at any of the anglers I mentioned above or even myself, we do not recount those bad tournaments over and over until it drives us crazy. We don’t go around complaining about the water or the weather, or blame other anglers or our equipment. We own it. We learn from it. We go back out there and do the work. Most importantly, we do not stop believing in big dreams.
My wife speaks a couple of verses over me before every tournament: 1 Chronicles 28:20 and Proverbs 16:3. The first one, 1 Chronicles 28:20, is a reminder that God have us covered. Until His work is finished, I need to believe big, be courageous, and do the work. The second, Proverbs 16:3, is a reminder for me to commit my plans to God before I head out. He wants to know what we are thinking. He wants to be a part of our lives and to see us live out the plan He has for us. We have bad days because we are being prepared for what is next.
What do you think you are being prepared for? Whatever it is, do not let the bad days be the end. Remember to pick your head up, do the work and believe big. It is what we are supposed to do.
Harvey Horne, native of North Louisiana, and former Union Parish resident, is in his second year fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series and also fishes the Bassmaster Eastern Opens. He currently resides in Northwest Arkansas with his wife Rhonda, a native of Marion, and their two children.