By Todd Ceisner
One point. One ounce. One spot in the FLW Tour Angler of the Year standings.
That’s what kept Alex Davis from being at Lake Murray next week as part of the 53-man field for the Forrest Wood Cup, an excruciatingly small margin that others have had to wrestle with in the past and surely more will encounter in the future.
Instead, Davis will run four guide trips at Lake Guntersville and keep an eye on the Cup proceedings as he pulls for close friend Marshall Deakins, who qualified via his victory at the BFL All-American. Davis is done kicking himself for not making it and is finished going through the what-ifs of what proved to be the best of his five seasons on the FLW Tour. Instead, he’s dwelling on the positives.
“Overall, it was a success,” he declared. “I have to look at it two ways – it was the best season I’ve had as far as points and it ranks up there as far as money. As far as goals go, it’s a success because I get to fish again next year.”
Had Davis finished one place higher at the season finale (or anywhere else on the schedule), it would’ve created a three-way tie for 39th in points between himself, Aaron Britt and Darrel Robertson. FLW would’ve then had to use its tiebreaker criteria to settle which two anglers would advance to the Cup. Since total weight caught during the season is the first criteria, Davis and Britt would’ve advanced and Robertson would’ve been the first man out.
At the season finale at the Potomac River, Davis caught 29-02 over two days, the same cumulative weight as Matt Arey and Todd Hollowell. Arey and Hollowell each had heavier single-day weights than Davis, which dropped Davis to a 56th-place finish. One more ounce would’ve given him 54th and the points necessary to clinch his first Cup berth.
“It didn’t feel as bad as how it looked,” he said. “I had chances at three of the tournaments to do much better points- and money-wise. On paper, it looks bad, but in my head I know the whole story and I still think it was the best season I’ve had. I fished better and made better decisions.”
Not About Me
By not qualifying for the Cup, Davis said he didn’t feel as though he let himself down, but rather those close to him.
At the Potomac, he was staying with family that lives in the area and after day 1, he had moved inside the cut line, so there was a sense of anticipation and excitement that he’d make it if he could maintain or improve his spot on the leaderboard. While he caught a smaller stringer on day 2, he advanced four places, but it still wasn’t enough.
“I had one chance at a good one and it jumped off,” he said. “To know on day 1 I was in and then to fall out like that, I was disappointed, but moreso for my family.
“My dad travels with me so he’s out there however long I want to stay out there. I can get over letting myself down, but when you think about letting your family down, you feel like a failure. You think about your sponsors and wonder if they’re going to start looking for a guy who can make the Cup. It’s a lot of things.”
Not a Points Guy
Davis said when he first joined the Tour, the only piece of advice he got came from veteran Andy Morgan.
“He said, ‘Alex, just cash checks. Do whatever it takes. Don’t worry about winning,’” Davis recalled.
It stuck with Davis, but it’s never been something he could commit to.
“(Andy’s) a special person with a special mindset and that works for him,” Davis said. “He can go flip a jig all day for six bites, but that’s not me. I still don’t have the mentality to fish for points.
“Say I know an area where I can get a limit in the morning for 10 pounds, but I know it won’t do me any good, but if I can spend those two hours and catch two 4-pounders, I’ll go that route every time,” he added.
He said being brought up fishing Guntersville and winning tournaments there is what instilled in him the mentality to hunt areas where bigger fish may be lurking. He knows it sometimes leads to swings and misses, but it’s all geared toward positioning himself to challenge for a victory.
“Guntersville put that in me,” he said. “Once you’ve won BFLs and Costas, that winning mentality doesn’t go away. You want to win again.”
He said being so in tune with Guntersville has been a blessing and a curse.
“It’s the best thing and worst thing having grown up on this lake,” he said. “You learn to catch big ones and so many ways to catch fish. The worst thing is let’s say I go down bank and get a bite flipping and it’s the only bite I’ve had. Andy (Morgan) would call that a pattern and do that all day. I’m looking for a school of fish where there’s a bunch of 4-pounders. That mentality is put in your head. The random bite you see Andy and Wesley (Strader) build on and are so good at, that’s the opposite mentality of me.”
Go, Marshall, Go
With only the Potomac River left on the FLW Tour schedule, Davis wanted badly to qualify for the Cup so he could share the experience with Deakins, whom he calls his best friend despite being half his age. Now, he’ll be Deakins’ biggest cheerleader back in Alabama.
“I wanted to make it so bad not just for me but so we could make it together,” Davis said. “I didn’t change my practice or approach at the Potomac. I just looked for off-the-wall things that no one would find that had better quality fish. The want was there a lot more.”
Davis said he and Deakins have spoken on the phone or in person every day for the last eight years and said their friendship – Davis is 32, Deakins is 65 – is centered around fishing.
“We are two people who can learn from each other who have same goal at end of the day, which is to try to be as good as you can be and learn as much as possible with burning desire to win,” Davis said. “We’ve fished many team events together where we could catch 18 pounds or go try to catch big ones. We both agree the big ones is the way to go because 18 (pounds) will only get us 8th place.”