Two days down in Toyota Trucks Championship Week, and I’m halfway to my goal.
There have been highs and lows for me. From overtaking the field at Oneida, to having the postseason point adjustments remove that lead. Then, to deal with the uncertainty of coming to a body of water I’d never been to at Jordan, and to have a so-so day on Saturday. I told someone in the media that I’d just shot par, but followed it with a definite birdie on Sunday.
There was another moment that brought ups and downs. I was talking to emcee Keith Alan, and he told me I’d leave the event with a 24-point lead over 2nd place in the standings. My mind started racing with tabulations, and I started to feel a little emotional — I’ve been known to get choked up a time or two. Then, when the points were officially tabulated, I ended up with a 16-point lead, so it was kind of a letdown.
As I made the drive to the hotel after doing Hooked Up with Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona and all of the other media stuff, I realized something. I’m halfway to my goal, and I know what I need to do.
I left everything on the water both days; fished as hard as ever — I should, this is my job. I expect the best of myself. I have to if I want to beat the other 11 anglers in this field. They are a bunch of sticks.
I caught 90 percent of the fish I weighed at the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase on one bait, but I think it might play a role for me next week, so I’ll keep it to myself for now. I will say that I fished offshore on Saturday and mixed in shallow docks on Sunday.
Next week is going to be new as well. I’ve got a little experience on the Alabama River, but not much. We’re hearing that they are going to release water from Jordan, which will create more current than usual downstream. I know I’m going to need to catch them and finish in the top three to guarantee the title, so that is my goal.
I started pursuing this objective before the season, after the last cast of 2008 when I put myself though my offseason workout routine — the most demanding I’ve ever done. Then I won the Classic on the Red River and the goal of winning Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year meant even more.
I know the sense of history that I’m chasing, and the magnitude of being able to equal what Mark Davis accomplished in 1995. My respect for the history of our sport, the great anglers who have gone before us and those I compete against everyday makes me want it even more, and I look forward to the challenge.
Kim and the girls fly in Tuesday for the final competition days, and I’m looking forward to that. They are everything to me, and it wouldn’t be the same without them here.
On the topic of family, my Elite Series competitor Mark Menendez had to leave early Sunday because of a family emergency. Our thoughts are with you Mark; I hope everything is alright and that we’ll see you on the water.
I’ll write for you next week — hopefully with a new trophy in hand.