I remember thinking at the start of the year that I always start with tonnes of energy and plenty of intent, to end the year feeling down in the dumps and a bit over fishing. This would usually be turned around by a summer of sight fishing. This year has been a lot different.
My tournament calendar was fairly light for me, with a sprinkling of events. ABT had a more focussed set of arenas, the structure of the Hobie events meant that I didn’t know where the final was going to be held until very late in the peace which meant I wasn’t able to plan whether I could or would make the final or not and therefore didn’t fish many events and I’ve increasingly dialled back my participation in the teams events over the past few years.
This lighter load has resulted in a year that I look back on and feel good about, not only have the results been a little (or even a lot) better for me but I didn’t feel that sense of dread about a commitment I had made 6-9 months earlier but with a sense of enthusiasm. It seems that limiting my time on the water has made me appreciate it so much more.
I tended to approach the days on the water differently as well, finally shifting my focus to learning about the fishing rather than fishing the way I like to fish. Spending more time on or around the water with Josh also meant I had a different perspective which helped me with the constant learning process.
It all culminated for me a few weeks back with the ABT final, where I was excited to be fishing structure that I am mostly comfortable with and doing well enough to achieve my goals of a full limit on each day. Something as simple as that, made the expenses of running a boat worth every cent. I know there are always opinions on the structure of prizes during the final but I’m a believer in the winner takes all philosophy and walking away empty handed did not reflect my sense of satisfaction.
There are plenty of opinions on the new format for the final, the long days, extra session and the addition of non-boaters or co-anglers to the full tournament were welcomed challenges for me. Managing fuel on a massive system like the Hawkesbury, batteries for trolling motors in a system renowned for strong currents and the physical demands were challenges that suit the concept of a final, where the winner essentially takes all.
Do I want to see the structure of the final change from what it was this year? Hell no, it added value to the fact that it was the final event of the season. It would have been great to see some more interstate anglers, as that is always a bugbear of mine, as we’ll really see who the adaptable anglers are. The guys like Warren Carter, Cam Whittam, Kris Hickson, Russ Babekuhl, Steve Morgan and company are the threat on virtually any system, regardless if it is their local or not.