It’s been a couple of weeks since I held that blue Elite Series trophy over my head at Lake Guntersville, and I have to say it was a really cool feeling.  I could never get tired of the excitement of winning; it’s what we fish for, and my eighth is no different than my first.

I guess what made it all that much sweeter was it was not a tournament I expected to win; especially not after my practice. By the time we had finished our three practice days, I was anticipating 12 to 14 pounds a day, and that’s not enough to do anything at a lake like Guntersville.

Then one of my tour roommates, Byron Velvick, told me he was throwing a bigger sized swimbait, and I started getting bigger bites.  I’m not going to recap the pattern for you here; it’s been covered very well by Bassmaster here on the website and will eventually be shown on The Bassmasters on ESPN2.

It was a completely different program than the last two times we came to Guntersville. Those were May tournaments and the fish were in their postspawn phase. This time, they were in all three stages of the spawn, and I just covered water each day, tried new areas and it worked out.

I knew I had a chance to win, and expecting Ike to go out and catch at least 20 pounds, I knew I had my work cut out for me. To go out and catch 25 pounds and come from behind was pretty cool. Wins are awesome. That’s why any athlete worth their weight plays their game – to try and win – and to beat this field is truly an accomplishment that I’ll never take for granted.

I got home after the tournament and celebrated with the family and did family stuff.  The girls are in soccer season, so we did that together and other stuff around the house. My point is that we had our moment and moved on with our family life, and for me, I began to focus on the Delta tournament this week. There really isn’t any time to let good times or bad times settle in during the season because there’s always another derby and another goal.

So, I started working on tackle, studying tides, looking at maps and reminiscing about past events on the Delta. The Delta has become a different fishery over the past several years, and I’ll have to take all of that into consideration when practicing and making tournament game plans.

We’ll be staying in the Delta for practice, but for the tournament itself, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed, which is pretty cool actually. Going out of downtown Sacramento creates challenges, but one of the cool things will be the fact that I get to sleep in my own bed for tournament nights.

While the Guntersville win has been put aside for now to focus on the next event, it really helped move me up in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.  I’m in 14th place now and being able to do well here at the Delta will go a long way towards climbing higher in the points.  Let the fun begin.

What have you caught lately?