Words and photos by Kristine Fischer
“What would you do with $100,000?”
Holding this greenback, with the thought of 100,000 more
Rolling over those words over carefully, allowing them to linger in the air for a few moments.
Soon I’ll be heading to the KBF Championships
, the world’s biggest bass fishing event.
I must have looked seemingly disinterested because my friend, muddled by the lack of acknowledgment sighed heavily and went back to spooling his reels. The split ring pliers in my hand worked quickly to replace factory treble hooks on my shallow square-bills, allowing those words to slowly dissolve into the back of my mind.
Fishing in a reflective state of mind.
Growing up, I was a multi-sport athlete, a triple-dog-dare take, and relentless challenge seeker. So four years ago, it seemed appropriate to enter the kayak bass fishing tournament scene to rekindle my love affair with competing. Tournaments satisfied my competitive nature, they also served as a humbling ego check. I quickly learned that the kayak fishing community consisted of thousands of people who were just as tenacious and dedicated as I.
“While tournaments satisfied my competitive nature, they also served as a humbling ego check…”
Understanding this meant two things. 1. I found the right group of people. 2. I was going to have to work a heck of a lot harder to hang with them. This meant evaluating and improving on how I went into this tournament. I needed to study maps, upgrade gear, and physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually prepare. I needed to prep for the Kayak Bass Fishing Tournaments
What does your living room look like?
My kayak weighs 140 lbs, without my gear. I need to be able to efficiently load and unload it. Also I need to be able to cover water and get to spot B as quickly as I can if spot A isn’t producing. My fear of midday tournament fatigue overtook my disdain for the gym.
Luckily I was able to survive monotonous cardio workouts by watching KVD
cover a few spring swimbait tactics and FLW pros on Wired2Fish discuss various shallow water techniques.
I’ll never forget my first national level tournament. Losing myself in the competition, wanting to prove myself to the fishing community. I allowed the infamous Lake Fork to make an absolute fool out of me. I came up empty-handed for the first time in a tournament. Adding insult to injury, one of my favorite rods got donated to the lake.
The distressful and raw emotions that are associated with failure metastasized on the 10 hour drive back to Nebraska from central Texas. All I could think about was how difficult it was for a female to be taken seriously as an angler, and how so much of that could have been rectified if I would have been at the top.
“All I could think about was how difficult it was for a female to be taken seriously as an angler”
I allowed that pressure to ruin my overall experience and forgot about why I started fishing in the first place. Several years and many tournaments later… I approach big tournaments with a different attitude.
I no longer lose sleep over where I end up in the field and allow my reputation and actions in the fishing world to speak to my angling skills. The best anglers have bad days on the water, the difference is your emotional disposition. Will you allow a tough day on the water provide motivation or destroy you?
Setting goals and prioritizing is the right mentality leading up to a tournament. I can’t begin to tell you about all of the days I wanted to devote to chasing musky. Instead, I opted to hone in on my bass fishing skills. Throwing a 1/8 oz shakey head isn’t as fun as throwing a 10 oz dusa, but it’s much easier on the shoulders.
I listen to bass fishing podcasts on my road trips and read numerous articles in Infisherman on the plane to help cultivate my appetite for spring bass fishing. Then, there’s tournament mentality. You can watch some of the best recreational anglers of all time mentally deteriorate when they try their hand in their first tournament.
“Then, there’s tournament mentality”
At crunch time its crucial to keep a level head and make good decisions. Second guessing yourself on bait selection, fishing spots and more can quickly result in cognitive disintegration. I’ve personally experienced this numerous times. With experience and time on the water, you begin to trust the instincts you’ve acquired. You’ll eliminate doubt, and navigate the tournament in an effective manner.
Lastly, I stress the importance of developing our intuition and spirituality. This allows me to better deal with unexpected mishaps and remain calm in the moments of the tournament. When I focus on my spirituality, the deep appreciation and gratitude I have for the sport and the opportunity to compete with the nations best is more impactful than winning. This is crucial in keeping me grounded and fosters an overall positive outlook going into the event.
Remember to breathe in those moments.
As I revisit my friend’s question, I can’t deny that holding a $100,000 check with my name on it would be a good time. However, this tournament means much more to be than prizes and bragging rights. I’m showcasing the hard work I’ve done as an angler to get to this point.
The tournaments are an opportunity to connect with individuals who are cut from the same eat-sleep-fish cloth that I am. I’ll hit the road for the trip to Paris, TN Monday morning to get on one of the best bass fisheries. To gather around the campfire and share stories over cold brews with the friends I’ve made all across the country. From there, the cash will simply be an afterthought.
For, the lessons, experiences, relationships, and growth I’ve gained from this sport are worth far more than $100,000.
It’s all about the good life.