Sunday, March 25, 2018

Numbers Can Be Misleading

My angler status and associated ranking does not fully reflect the story of my first year’s experience on the FLW Costa Southeastern Tour.  
Over two hundred anglers routinely fish in the FLW Costa Tour 

Yes, my ranking of 100th out of 268 is accurate, my weights were all properly recorded, but my numbers miss represent my 2018 story. 

In January, wind dominated southern Florida. The first event on Lake Okeechobee was very tragic. A pro boater’s judgement error and high winds played a key role in the death of fellow coangler Nik Kayler on day one. 
Remembering Nik Kayler - 2018

The tragedy caused the cancellation of the remaining tournament and only day-one weights counted.  A poor day of fishing showed in my pplace standing and a total weight of five pounds, two ounces. I was not on any solid fishing pattern so this finish was justified. 

Second stop of the Costa event was on Lake Seminole the first week of March.  Again, wind destroyed the lake the first day of the event and a lake wind advisory caused the cancellation of tournament day-one. 
A massive wind storm cancelled day-one

The full field was required to fish the next two days to determine the champion. 

In practice, despite the cloudy, windy days I found three solid fishing patterns that should have put me in contention for a top ten finish. 
Wind and weather had to be factored into the game plan

The fishing patterns were:  open water schoolers around isolated plant beds, prespawn bass in lilypads, and staging bass on 20-foot deep timber. 

Aquatic plants found to hold schooling bass

Lilypad beds where prespawn bass were holding

Deep water standing timber holding staging bass
The storm that passed the night of day-one wrecked my open water schoolers. I was only able to entice one bass in the three-pound class to bite my lure, but lost it at the boat. 

I also lost some numerous bass in the three-pound class fishing topwater frogs in the lilypads, and lost another four-pounder fishing jerkbaits in standing timber. 

In the end, my two day weight of 18lbs, 3ozs for eight bass gave me a finish mid-pack in the 238-angler field. 

Being in the bag line is a good thing
A large crowd gathered to see our fish

If I had landed any of the three-pound bass that I lost, I would have filled my allowable five-bass limit and I would have finished in the top 50 with a nice paycheck.  

In this last derby I played the weather correctly, developed a nice diversity of patterns to hold up for three days, and caught more weight in each consecutive tournament day. But bad execution cost me. I have relived every lost fish too many times to tell you, but I have also analyzed the cause of each loss and vow to correct the problems. 
Aquatic plants that grew underwater and chocked out spawning areas

A hard line where shorelines dropped steeply into the water

The “numbers” do not tell the whole story of how close I was to having a top finish!  

Remember, there is always a great story behind the scenes of how close each angler was to taking the prize, so do not take the numbers at face value. 
My best two bass landed on the final day of Lake Seminole event

Tight lines, and remember to learn your aquatic plants to catch more fish.