When things life tosses you a bone that has been chewed up and left for trash. See what you can learn from it, otherwise its just another piece of trash.
Needless to say there has to be something to learn from tough days on the water and overcoming the pressures of competition fishing.
Day 1: Practice
Typically its the first day on a new stretch of water before a comp when your learning curve has to adjust and sometimes dramatically. Spend time fishing different flies, experiment using new techniques and just knock out a few of the cobwebs, especially this time of year. Bottom line, figure out what they are eating and get fish into your net.
Its tough to imagine what beat your going to draw in the comp so prepare yourself for tough fishing. Practice on super spooky fish in hard to fish water. If you can get them there, you should be able to get them most anywhere. Get your head in the water and by the end of your first day of practice have a few confidence flies, know what type of water to target and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I ended up with 10 fish in the bag after our 6 hour session and Patrick had a few less, but we were fishing water with less fish and less structure, so we figured we would be fine.
Day 2: Considering that your experience on your given comp water is limited to one day of practice and you base all your decisions off of these one set of conditions. When factors arise outside of your control like a change in, water level, weather, or whatever, you mist be prepared to adapt. This might be the single hardest thing for anglers to do. Get outside of their comfort zone, fish a different style, change up their flies, or wade into a different type of water.
This might have been the fatal flaw in our teams plan...we were stubborn. We stayed within our comfort zone. I hooked up with the above rainbow in the first 15 minutes and then spent a fish-less hour in the same spot, fishing the same way, without any results. Strike 1.
The long walk back to the parking lot with the team downstream of us. They reported a big bagel or 0 fish. This was a sad lot of folks, but we still all had smiles on our faces.
Lets talk about strike 2. That occurred during lunch. This is where anglers with a super short term memory shine. If you have the worst or best session, you need to leave that behind and move onto the next. Forget the old and start anew. We held on to the tough morning and then got a report, that the beat we were planning on fishing reported zero fish in the morning. Another huge blow to the old confidence.
So, we worked water that we were comfortable with, fished in the same manor that we did in the morning. Pretty much just sucked it up.
And what were the results of our stubbornness? Fish hooked, but not converted. We struggled with our equipment, fought long leaders, and got pissed off. Dropped fish that would have put us on the board and boosted morale.
Towards the end of the day, when the fishing actually began to turn on, we were so mentally defeated that there was no way to actually achieve success and score points. More fish were hooked and not converted into points. I mean we really tried, but somewhere mixed up our egos and stubbornness we got our asses handed to us.
Patrick showing everyone what he really thinks of the way the team fished on January 15th.
All that remains is an opportunity to look back and analyze what went wrong? Tough beats, sure, its all in the luck of the draw, but it really comes down to the mental edge. Learning from others, ourselves, and what the water has to teach on any given day.
I await the next chance to wipe the slate clean, get out there and do it all over again. Each day is different and a new chance to draw that all star beat.