This report from on the road has been one of my hardest to write for many reasons.
I just finished my first B.A.S.S. Open event, my first ever. It was located in Dandridge, TN on Douglas Lake. It is a lake known for off shore deep water fishing. A type of fishing I felt was a strength of mine. This was also the first time I would be fishing against some of the big name Pro’s the North Country became familiar with last summer at the St. Lawrence River Showdown, Elite Series in Waddington. Some names like Brandon Palaniuk (the winner of the St. Lawrence River Showdown) Mike Iaconelli, and 2013 B.A.S.S. AOY, Aaron Martens, just to name a few.
My wife, Jen and I and of course at least one pup, this trip, Gemma Rose was the lucky one, headed down 81 for 14 hours. We arrived in beautiful Dandridge, TN and I was ready to start my practice. I felt more prepared and confident than ever that I was going to finish well in this event. My training physically and mentally had already put me in that mindset.
Then lightning struck and everything underneath me seemed to fall apart. My story this event is not so much about how I did or did not catch fish but what I learned along the way in an attempt to become a better angler.
The tournament arrived and 189 boats would be fishing the event and I finished 142nd. As my final weigh in came and went, I felt a huge disappointment and let down in everything I had prepared for all year.
As I drove back to my campsite disappointment went to the feeling of failure. My mind raced how I had let my sponsors down, my fans and myself. As I sat my last night at the campground overlooking Douglas lake I posted in social media stating that I had failed but thanked all of my friends, family, fans and sponsors who support me.
Moments after the post, I began getting comments or text messages of encouragement and I have to mention one that brought my mind back around to why I can do this, why I can succeed.
A friend of mine put a photo of a quote in the comment section, “I’ve missed more than 3,000 shots in my career, I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I have been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” The author of the quote is Michael Jordan. I sat by the fire that night reflecting on that quote over and over when suddenly it really all made sense.
No matter what a person does in life, few people ever achieve a dream or a goal on their first try, so why should I be any different?
The entrepreneur does not become a millionaire on his or her first try, Tiger Woods did not become a champion the first time he picked up a golf club and cracked a ball. So why is it that I think I should become a champion at my first few tries?
I then realized what can make a champion is someone that can acknowledge their failure and step back up to try it again and again. Fishing at the professional level is no doubt a humbling sport where you can go from hero to zero in a few flips of a jig.
I have fished local tournaments, state tournaments and now at the professional level and there is the “dock talk” at the end of each event. One thing that has always stuck in my mind is the guys that have excuses for not doing well. Such as “if I would not have lost those two fish I would have won that event” or “if my trolling motor would not have quit halfway through the event I would have won”.
These are factors in the game that can effect anyone at any given time. True champions figure out how to overcome these obstacles and win or just admit you failed on that particular day.
What I did not state to anyone that the night before my event I had several equipment problems which kept me up until almost midnight. I resolved the problem and woke up at 3:30 am to fish the first day of the event.
Arriving at my first spot and catching the first fish of the day I then found my livewell pumps had quit working. I spent over an hour of my fishing time trying to fix the pumps, which I did enough to get me through the day.
I ended that day with four fish, one shy of a limit. I was disappointed but I had no excuses about why I only caught four fish. My pumps did not keep me from catching fish, I was obviously not on a good enough bite that day to catch a limit of fish, that was the only excuse. The problems with the equipment can and will happen, and you have to work through it.
I received a few other text messages from friends that helped put the game of life , fishing or whatever your dream is to follow into perspective. A friend messaged me stating that he thought I had done a great job and to keep working at it. I expressed my concern that I had failed.
His response was that I was pursuing things that most people never dare do. He also stated that I inspire him and he looks up to me chasing my dreams. Win, lose or draw there is motivation that can bring a person out of the trenches of failure and make them step back up and go at it again even harder.
My lessons for my first B.A.S.S. Open will be forever embedded in me. I was at first ashamed to admit failure which is probably one of the hardest things for a human being to overcome.
We will all have failures at some point in our lives, some more than others. The people who become great will step up and admit their failures and use them to achieve success. So, no matter young or old, whatever you are trying to achieve do not fear failure for it is just a tool to learn to become great.
I will take my lessons from Douglas Lake and head to the Potomac River in Maryland June 19-21 for my next event and give it all I have, the rest will sort itself out.
In closing, one of the best messages I received was from a good friend who is a local top notch angler, the message read “hey you know what’s really cool? You beat Mike Iaconelli!” Yes, I did Brad and thanks for the encouragement!!
Don’t chase your dreams....catch them.