Lost Confidence

The deafening roar of the speeding 18 wheeler was almost too much to bare as it sped past my tow rig in the middle lane of highway 580. Wow, 75 MPH, where's a cop when you need one!

There I was, back on the interstate with my shinny new Ranger488 in tow, headed for home after another poor tournament finish and I wasn't in a good mood! I just gazed out the window, watching the cars and road signs go zipping by. I was totally dejected . 12 pounds??? Man, that is 'weak sauce'!!!

On the days when I didn't finish well in a tournament, I use to beat myself up pretty hard. These negative feelings seemed to occur more often these days, ever since I raised the level of competition by entering more Pro type tournaments. During the trips home after a poor finish, I'd hear myself saying things like, "I can't hang, maybe I should quit" or "I just plain suck"! I finally had to ask myself, "what's happening to me? Why am I so hard on myself?" The answer was 'Lost Confidence'.

What is Lost Confidence? It's a condition that we cause for ourselves and it starts by not defining a road map for our direction as tournament anglers. By not setting short term goals, I found myself going into tournaments with unreasonable expectations. In talking with others, I found that this is a common thing amongst tournament anglers. It can also occur by setting non-achievable goals which are too aggressive and are beyond our level of experience.

Take this past 1999 season for example. I put everything else aside and I set one goal for the year and it was to qualify for the Anglers Choice TOC. It would have been real easy to put unnecessary pressure on myself by setting the end goal of winning a boat at the TOC but that would have been unrealistic and would have caused additional stress.

The Anglers Choice Delta team circuit has 7 tournaments during the season, with all 7 tournament finishes counting in the year end points race, with no throw outs. My partner and myself took one tournament at a time and set a short term goal at each event. It was simple. Do your homework, pre-fish with conviction and then go out and fish the tournament with confidence. We maintained that philosophy throughout the entire season and into the TOC which was held at Clearlake this past Oct.22nd and 23rd . Even though we were a little intimidated at the level of competition (which was discovered at the TOC dinner when we saw all the tournament heavy weights) we still adhered to the philosophy. We knew that we had as good a game plan as anyone going into day one of the event.

We fished day one with lots of confidence and did the best we could however, despite losing a few big fish which put us 8 pounds behind the leader after the weigh-in, we still maintained our confidence. In fact, we went into day two with more confidence then either of us had ever displayed before. After 2 hours of fishing, we were back in the hunt with a quick limit for 17+ pounds including a 8.41 lb giant which was good for second big fish for the event. We knew 17 lbs wasn