It’s something the majority of us have done. Your tournament day didn’t go as planned, and if you could weigh 25 fish with the same size as the two runt smallmouth you have in your livewell… you’d still miss a check. So about an hour before weigh-in, you dump those two juveniles while on plane and load the boat. The only good news is that you’ll get an early start to your “drive of shame” back home.
I’m not pointing any fingers, because I’ve done it. One time my partner, Jay, and I ran over 100 miles, one way, on Lake Roosevelt with dollars signs and victory speeches on our minds. We had seen the promise land the weekend before, and there was no doubt the juice was worth the squeeze. Fast forward to weigh-in and I’m trying to talk Jason into dumping our 6.72lbs and heading towards the closest bar (numb the pain.) His response to was pretty direct, included some cursing, but can be summed up like this…. “Learn to lose like a winner.”
Brandon Palaniuk said once in an interview that he’s won more tournaments on the last cast, than he ever has on the first. His mindset when it comes to competition is one dimensional… he believes he’s going to win, until the weighmaster tells him he didn’t. I don’t believe everyone is born with that mindset, but it can be learned. For me, the biggest improvement in my average tournament finish has come from one particular mindset… “I’m going to weigh-in whatever is in the livewell.”
Once you eliminate the possibility of throwing back fish, you completely eliminate the most negative source of reasoning in your brain, pride and ego. Nobody, and I don’t care who you are, wants to walk down the dock with a bag full of d-beaters and tell your buddies, “I got 5 pounds…… oh you got 21… good for you, jackwagon.” It hurts me to just write about it.
The Battle in Your Mind
In 1519, Spanish Conquistador, Hernando Cortez burned his ships while his soldiers watched in horror from the shore of their enemies’ homeland. His motivation was simple; retreat is easy when you let yourself have the option. Without the option, your commitment level is much higher. I suggest that the mental battle on a tough tournament day is similar. When you allow the option of retreat, you’ll waste time fighting that urge instead of dreaming up new solutions. You might also start reducing the effort level of your decisions because you don’t think anything’s going to work. For example: “I’m not running all the way to that spot, there’s no wind, it’s cloudy, and the water is too wet.” Usually when you do that, you’ll find later that the winning bag was pulled from that very same area.
In tournament fishing there’s on adage that seems to be true, “you win some but you lose most.” In this sport, there are going to be bad days, lost fish, bad rotations, and blown motors for the Merc guys… (Just kidding. You Merc guys get so testy.) The effort, money and resources put into fishing tournaments is fairly significant. If I get beat by the fish during an event, I’m damn sure going to haul the ones that do bite to the weighmaster for a little smashing and suffocation at the scales. Somehow that makes me feel better.
My last thought on the matter is this. I am always impressed with the guy that hauls a puny bag past all the sand-baggers towards the weigh-in stage. What does he really have to lose if he busted his butt all day and it didn’t work out, a little pride? Who cares… everyone knows that pride comes before the fall.