I’ve wanted to be a professional bass fisherman since I was a little kid. I’m sure many anglers have shared that dream, but I never really outgrew it. I recall practicing pitching on my parents' basement floor as a kid. Today, as my wife, Bri, will attest, I’m still perfecting my trade -- for countless hours in our living room as she’s trying to watch her favorite television shows!
Some things just never change. My desire to compete on bass fishing's biggest stages has only grown stronger. I want it now more than ever. And with continued hard work and support from family and sponsors, I’m slowly but surely inching my way toward living that dream.
Headed to Texas
This season, I will again fish some regional North American Bass Circuit events, but I also will be jumping up on the national stage, having received an invite to fish in the Bassmaster Central Opens. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Bassmaster Elite Series. An Open win would give me an automatic Bassmaster Classic berth and a chance at an Elite Series invite.
I'll be fishing all three Central Opens this season -- a giant step to say the least, but a step I’ve been anxiously waiting to take for as long as I can remember. Next month, my quest to make the Eite Series begins. I’m very excited to be leaving Minnesota soon to compete Feb. 9-12 in the Central Open on Lake Lewisville, near Dallas, Texas.
When North American Fisherman invited me to blog about my experiences competing for the first time on a national stage, I jumped at the opportunity. I plan to share both the ups and downs of being a rookie competing against some of the country’s best bass fishing veterans. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll have to endure all sorts of obstacles while trying to climb my way to the top.
Editor's note: Josh and fishing partner Corey Brant won the NAFC-sponsored North Amerian Bass Circuit's Lake Minnetonka tournament in 2012. Watch the video below to see the nail-biting weigh-in and hear Josh discuss the win. (Josh's blog continues below the video. Scroll down to continue reading)
Compete against the fish
It’s hard to remind myself sometimes that I’ll be fishing against the fish and not the other anglers. The Open and Everstart fields comprise Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW pros battling for a trip to the Bassmaster Classic, as well as local guides and anglers like me looking for a spot on one of the national tours.
I’m well aware of the learning curve that comes with this kind of step and I’ve always been more than willing to take one on the chin. The key for me will be learning and adapting, as well as trusting my ability to find and catch fish.
As I wait anxiously to head to Texas I’ve been preparing here at home, getting everything ready well before I put the rig in drive. Whether I'm fishing locally or on a national stage, I do my homework. It’s essential that when I’m on the water competing, my only concern is fishing.
I’ve been preparing my truck, boat and tackle, rigging up my new Lowrance Gen 2 electronics, and studying my 2012 Navionics map, so I’ll be familiar with the lake well before I launch.
Do online research, but don't take it as gospel
I do my share of Internet research, but I don’t take what I find as gospel. I’ve learned that I’m a much better angler when I hit the water and have an open mind. I tend to chase my tail when I get caught up in preconceived notions of what may or may not have worked for another angler. I’ve learned also to stay away from dock talk. In the tournaments I’ve won or placed high in, I did it on my own and it showed at the scales.
When I’m researching online, I look for key words that appear frequently -- mentions of bait colors, presentations or key areas on the lake. These clues provide a starting point, and I’ll work on fine-tuning it from there. Tournament waters ares so big you can wear yourself thin running all over the lake like a chicken with its head cut off. Instead, I focus my efforts on a few key areas and learn every nook and cranny in that general vicinity.
Finding a "spot on a spot"
Sharing water with multiple boats has never been a strong point for me and is surely something I'll need to get better at dealing with. My main focus, however, will always be to find that hidden gem of a spot that I can milk for three straight days and ride to a first-place finish.
Well, I better get back to preparing -- these rods aren’t going to spool themselves! I thank you for reading my first North American Fisherman blog and invite you to follow my progress throughout the tournament season. I plan to share everything with you -- the ups and downs, what did and didn’t work, as well as any new tips and techniques I learn along the way.
Most importantly, I want to share the real and honest emotions that come from putting it all on the line and making a childhood dream a reality.
Wish me luck!
An active bass tournament angler and full-time guide, Josh Douglas won the North American Bass Circuit's 2011 Lake Minnetonka tournament, along fishing partner Corey Brant. When not on the water, Josh writes for several outlets about his passion of bass fishing, including his website. His sponsors include Biovex U.S.A., Seaguar, Navionics, Trokar and Lowrance. Josh and his wife, Bri, live in Minneapolis, but are planning to move soon to Lake Chickamauga, Tenn.