David Dudley doesn't want to talk much about his chances of winning the 2011 FLW Tour Angler-of-the-Year (AOY) award. He'd also rather not discuss the stellar season he's had to this point or the remarkable record of consistency he's compiled recently.
He said he's doing his best to avoid even thinking about those things. He wants to continue, as he puts it, to "fish with fear."
"I think one of the biggest downfalls you can have is when articles start getting written about you and how you're doing so well, you can start believing you really are that good and that you're almost super-human when it comes to fishing," he said. "Kevin (VanDam) has fought that the best of anybody.
"I don't want to analyze my season and I don't read articles about my own abilities or anyone else's anymore. I know I'm not super-human and I can't take anything for granted. If I did, I could go a year straight without making a check."
Plays his Own Tune
Dudley has always been a guy who's willing to speak his mind – and to act on his thoughts. Recall that back in 2005, he freely admitted to hooking bed-fish during practice for a Bassmaster Tour event at the Harris Chain in Florida. With full knowledge that he'd be in the last flight on day 1, he attempted to make those spawners tougher to catch for other competitors, terming it "defensive fishing." There were other instances as well, including one in which he used a chainsaw to clear an entryway into a backwater area.
The 35-year-old Virginian has experienced a great deal of success in a pro career that began while he was still a teenager, and he's done it all his own way. The "fear" factor is his current theme, and there's no doubt it's working for him.
He said that a few years back, right after he won the Tour AOY in 2008, he may have gotten a little too caught up in his press clippings, and it affected his performance. There wasn't a huge drop-off in terms of numbers, but he said he knew he wasn't maximizing his ability.
He looks at the subpar season experienced by Skeet Reese, which came on the heels of a record-setting 2010 campaign, and the mini-slump that defending Tour AOY Bryan Thrift has been mired in since ascending to the top of the BassFan World Rankings earlier this year, and he wonders whether they subconsciously got a bit complacent.
"All my jerseys have a quote that says 'Never Be Satisfied.' What that means is, if I become satisfied, I won't continue to get better. I'm going to hit a plateau and my abilities will flat-line.
"If I'm never satisfied, then I know I can still improve. I can't believe that I'm so good that I can't fail and that I'm always going to get a check. You can fall victim to that mindset."
Not Big on Coordinates
Dudley will carry a 16-point lead in the AOY race over Brent Ehrler into the regular-season finale at Lake Pickwick later this month. That means that any placement of 16th or higher – something he's accomplished three times in the five Majors that've been contested this year – will guarantee him his second career points title.
Ehrler might skip the tournament due to the impending birth of his first child. If that occurs, a 31st-place finish will keep Tom Monsoor, currently 3rd in the points, at bay.
The Pickwick event is a make-up for the Table Rock stop that was scheduled for early May, but canceled due to extremely high water. Dudley said the Alabama impoundment in the middle of summer, with the vast majority of the fish out on the limited amount of offshore structure, is not the ideal venue on which to try to close out a points championship.
"You can quote me as saying this: I hate GPS tournaments," he said. "They do not show people's ability. Out of the first 30 boats (to leave the launch) on the first day, about 20 of those guys are going to end up in the Top 30. It's not like Kentucky Lake, where there's 75 miles of ledges. There's 10 to 12 miles because the Tennessee part is off-limits.
"It's not like springtime, when the fish are scattered and you have to go out and use a pattern. This is a lot different – this late in the year, they're ganged up on spots. All I can do is go out and try to win this tournament and let the AOY cards fall where they may."
> Dudley started the year at No. 67 in the World Rankings, but had climbed all the way to 4th prior to last month's event at Kentucky Lake. A 42nd-place finish there dropped him to 6th.
> He invites fans to visit his FaceBook page for his thoughts on fishing and other topics.