Featured Image – Wade Headrick courtesy of The Bass Federation 2018 National Championships
Most successful athletes start each season with at least one goal in mind. While some only share “winning” as the primary goal, others will share some deeper goals that ultimately lead up to the opportunity to win. Bass Fishing is no different and many anglers keep track of personal goals such as PB (Personal Best) bass, Best 5 Bass, Top 10 finishes, etc… These might be the most obvious and can be great if you are new to setting goals and working towards breaking them each year. What other bass fishing specific goals are out there? Who is keeping score?
Here are a few people that set goals each year and how they are tracking as we get closer to finishing this year out.
Ryan Gates sets the bar high each year with a goal most won’t achieve. A largemouth over 10 lbs and a smallmouth over 5.5 lbs each year has been his target. Progress to goal in 2018 is coming along nicely with a 6.3 lb smallmouth but a great 9.2 lb bucketmouth falls a little short and has him narrowing the focus as the Fall bite sets in. This year Ryan added a few other adjustments to better his skills. Fishing without a net and focusing his bait selection to a wider range of Strike King products are just a couple of things he is doing to sharpen his abilities. He believes being secure enough in his skills has opened up a variety of challenges that will prove to make him a better angler as his tournament career advances to larger stages.
Rosie Williams, AKA “The Professor”, already achieved the goal of catching a bass in each month of the year so in 2018, the goal has been a largemouth and a smallmouth in each month. With bass being a warm water species, the Winter months can be a time when some Pacific Northwest bass anglers move on to other things. This simply doesn’t apply to some of the most versatile anglers who continue to push themselves to be better anglers. For those that know The Professor, he is an avid outdoorsman and loves to hunt but that won’t keep him from getting this goal in 2018. The Fall bite is just getting good and in a few short months he will have to figure out what the 2019 goal will be.
Wade Headrick, Owner of Rock & Walls in Utah, absolutely put in the work on and off the water for the past 27 years in business. Wade’s secret to success is getting the day started early by putting his boots on the same time everyday. He believes in work and in fishing, if you are doing all you can do, you WILL NOT FAIL. In fishing, there have been times when winning came easy but after some time away he was faced with looking at why he wasn’t winning. Wade’s self assessment and setting goals based on where he was coming up short put him back on top. Comparing dirt bike racing and fishing, Wade said repetition and focus on mechanics showed him the time on the water was critical. Paying attention to small details, birds, pattern changes, and breaking down what was missing. For Wade, realizing he had gone away from finesse fishing with a spinning rod was an eye opener. He set a goal forcing himself to pick up the spinning rods and put away equipment he had confidence in to break the pattern he was depending on. This brought him back to being the versatile angler he had been in years prior by learning again to catch fish using his graphs and different finesse techniques. Combining his strengths with the work put in on finesse techniques put him in Nationals 3 times in a 5 year period.
When Blossom Langston learned Bass Battles would have a Ladies Non-Boater Division, she set the goal for her rookie year to qualify for the TBF National Semifinal. Volunteering for last year’s event in The Dalles opened her mind to thoughts of fishing in it “someday” but she didn’t imagine that it would be possible this early on. Blossom also set goals to expand her experience on different bodies of water. This pushes her to try different techniques that will dial in her confidence level in any situation. Fishing as a co-angler from the back of the boat can be tough but also has her believing she can overcome any obstacles put in front of her to compete in this sport.
Logan DeGree starting his Freshman year at Bethel University set his goal around consistency. Fishing at least once a week keeps him feeling confident in his skills and ability to make the right adjustments. Since Logan has spent much of his time out of the back of the boat without the ability to pick the location, he relies on a range of baits and not a specific pattern to achieve more consistent tournament finishes. Really paying attention to weather changes and not being afraid to change up techniques continue to strengthen his adaptability which is key in becoming a consistent angler. Being in Tennessee this year has opened more opportunity to fish bodies of water new to him. This will obviously bring new challenges to bait selection and learning how the fish react to seasonal changes. Logan’s 2019 goals will hopefully help him earn a varsity spot on Bethel’s fishing team but he also knows there is work to do to get there.
What goals have you set for 2018? Did you reach them yet? The year is slipping away! Maybe it’s time to take a look at what’s missing and set some 2019 goals. The best time to set a goal would have been in the past. The next best time is right now.