It’s that time!
It’s the time of the year that we reminisce on our faults from the past year, and with the new year signifying a “fresh start,” the list of resolutions materializes. As a competitor, you must always assess your performances and try to improve your weaknesses as well as manage your strengths.
I already have high expectations for 2018, a year which will see my tournament fishing increase, as well as my overall time on the water. To make the best of my opportunities that I have ahead of me, here are some of my fishing New Year’s resolutions.
Focus In The Fight
I think we all know that losing fish is an inevitable part of fishing – it’s just flat-out going to happen sometimes. However, I have seen a much larger percentage of lost fish than usual over the last few years, which accounted for many lost checks and eliminated opportunities for victories.
The reason for this string of lost fish wasn't due to dumb luck, but rather a habit of getting into too much of a rush and executing poorly. Once my string of frequent fish losses began, things continued to snowball mentally and I began to focus on getting the fish in the boat as fast as possible without focusing on the situation at hand.
How well is the fish hooked? Did my line get damaged on some cover during the hookset? Is the cold weather weakening my fluorocarbon? These were all questions I needed to be asking myself in the moment, but instead nerves got the best of me.
As is true with virtually anything, practice makes perfect, and to improve my hook-to-land ratio, my first resolution is to condition myself to slow down and assess every fight – from hookset to landing – in an effort to train myself to make better decisions in the moment and thus improve my landing percentage.
I've been training for a couple of months, and by understanding what is going on during a fight and making logical decisions instead of emotional ones, my fish-landing has gone through the roof. I see every fish I hook, even when fun-fishing, as an opportunity for me to improve.
Lean on Strengths
Anglers are always looking for an edge. However, I think that we often overlook an advantage we already possess – our individual strengths. Whether it's a certain technique, category of techniques or prowess in fishing a certain type of cover, we all have strengths, and I believe that focusing on what we do best is essential to continued success.
I've flip-flopped between prioritizing versatility vs. individual strengths. After many years of trying both, I've come to the conclusion that my strengths need to be my “rock” and for me, versatility takes a back seat until my strengths prove to not work in an event.
I’m not saying that I'm looking to focus on one technique for all my events this year, nor am I suggesting that I'll throw versatility to the wind. But what I am going to do is try to eliminate my primary strengths in every event before I start experimenting with something that I might not necessarily consider myself really good at.
I've found that dock talk is a major driving factor that pushes us away from our individual strengths and tempts us to do things that we don't fully understand or have confidence in. By believing in my core strengths and building game plans around them, as well as reducing my intake of dock talk, I should be able to be more efficient, maintain more confidence and make better decisions as well as have more fun.
Fit to Fish
Last but not least, what might be my most important resolution is to improve myself physically and mentally through a healthier lifestyle. Once again, this is something I actually started a couple months ago, but it's something that I am taking very seriously in 2018.
There is no doubt, fitness and healthy dietary decisions make for a stronger person, both physically and mentally, and over the last few years, with the reduction in time on the water, I found myself more inactive overall, which in combination with a poor diet, I quickly gained weight and lost energy.
Since my move to Tennessee, my motivation to turn my unhealthy lifestyle around has seen me making much better decisions as well as working out regularly. So far I'm seeing some major results in my mental clarity as well as my stamina standing on the front of the bass boat all day.
Keep it Going
Although I'm taking the new year as an opportunity to create worthwhile resolutions to improve myself, I’m hoping that these things I've listed above aren't just fleeting, well-meaning resolutions that last a few months, or even a year, but rather are long-term lifestyle and performance standards that I will continue live by for the long run.
I’m very excited about 2018 due to the burning drive I have for improving myself, and no matter the results, I think that as long as that is my focus, I’m already ahead of the curve.
Happy New Year!
(Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is an aspiring tour pro and co-host of the TV series "Sweetwater." To visit his website, click here. You can also visit him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (SonarFishing) and Instagram (@sonarfishing).