ARE YOU BURNED OUT FROM FISHING
Every competitive angler goes through highs and lows in their fishing careers. The highs come with the excitement of doing well and winning and the lows come when you’re not doing so well and blanking, this is a given, in our sport as in every sport. But I want to talk about something else, about a dreaded monster that will steal your hopes and dreams and cause you to give up on all your dedication and hard work, it’s the Burn-Out Syndrome. It’s the lowest of lows. It lurks in all careers including professional bass fishing. It looks like so much fun, watching your favorite angler competing and believing how fortunate for him or her to be able to fish for a living. Oh yeah, then there is always the sponsorship support, these guys don’t even have to win! Now that really is: the life. We’ve all heard the old adage “A bad day of fishing is better than the best day at work”, through this lens; fishing is not even viewed as work! How about the old Babylonian proverb: “The gods do not deduct from a man’s allotted span, the hours spent fishing“. So what, is fishing on par with heaven? Okay, with all that said, how could anyone ever get burned-out from fishing when folks dream of the day they retire and can spend the rest of their life casting lures into their own personal sea of bliss!
Well hold on and let’s get back to reality. I want to share my experience with the Burn-out Monster. For me, it is caused by a combination of: family issues, financial woes, physical and mental fatigue, sickness, and from making wrong decisions on the water. I have personally experienced the Burn-out Monster more than once. I have tried to cut down on everything that could lead to the burn-out syndrome and it is a mental game. I now remind myself, “this too shall pass” which includes the highs and the lows.
I have learned patience it is now my best friend. We professional bass fishermen put a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform at a high level before even getting on the water. This pressure affects our families, our personal life and our finances. For professional fishermen, our families have to come first and the finances have to be in order before you can start getting through the burn-out syndrome. Many fishermen lose it during their fishing career and never come back to the sport. I was there and it almost happened to me during the 2006 Bass Master Elite Series.
Fishing at the national level against the best pros in the country is both stressful and rewarding; it’s harder than it looks! During the ‘06 Bass Master Elite Series season I traveled over 60,000 miles towing my boat and 15,000 miles by plane. I traveled and fished for three months straight each of the previous three years, but during the 2006 season there were more tournaments which meant more travel and more time away from home than I had previously experienced. I thought I was prepared for 8 months but it felt like it was longer than that. I was burned out after the 2006 season and didn’t even want to go fishing for fun. I came home, unpacked my gear, shut my fishing room door and didn’t open it for 3 months. I covered the boat and put it up for sale and sold it within a week. Then the 2007 season FLW series was announce in October and that piqued my attention a bit and I considered getting backed into it but I was still mentally exhausted. In the meantime I ordered my new boat which was going to be ready by Christmas. With the new season starting in January at Lake Havasu, I knew that I had to get back on track, and fast! My family life for the next 3 months was in full swing. I began working out, getting into shape and eating healthier rather than eating fast food and buffets like I did when on the road. I was still mentally tired but thought that maybe with the new season I would re-energize. It was four days before the official practice of the FLW series at Havasu when I finally opened the door to the fishing room, I couldn’t believe I had gone that long without fishing.
The burn out was still there but it was receding and I came out of it with a pretty good attitude. I was ready for the next step which meant getting preparing for the next tournament and season. Then it was time to organize my fishing tackle and do maintenance on my rods and reels. This took me 3 days, it was a cool experience. I found a lot of old lures that I thought I’d lost by spending the time to organize my fishing arsenal. I have not done that in years and it felt good and was another step toward getting through the burn out. I left the next day for Havasu and was so excited. My friend Dwight Sheppard traveled with me to this tournament and fished as a co-angler and helped me get focused for the tournament, Dwight gave a little pep talk as well. We both went into the tournament knowing that this was going to be a mentally tough competition with very few bites. I finished 50th and earned $10, 000 which was the last payout check! The whole time there, I was just hoping I could compete at this level on the west coast as I haven’t fished out here regularly for 4 years. I had taken another step forward out of the burn-out syndrome. Finishing well in your first tournament after a hiatus is a huge forward-step in the mental game of fishing. With the tournament over, for the first time in four years I could drive home and see my family and sleep in my own bed, it felt great!
The next event was at the California Delta in March. I was excited about that event and didn’t feel any physical or mental fatigue but that all changed after the first day of competition. The biggest bag I had previously caught was a little over 50 lbs for 5 fish; I lost enough bass that first day to demolish that record. It was a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and it tore me up. The tournament was a complete failure for me. I know better now than to let that kind of thing bother me because I know it’s going to happen to all of us, probably sooner than later. I think the best way to get through a bad tournament is to begin planning for the next one and try not to “beat yourself up” over the last one. Learn from your experience and use it for the future!
After that tournament I unpacked my fishing tackle into my fishing room and took yet another break from fishing. I think that taking a break after a tournament helps you get your mojo back and those competitive juices flowing. I took two months off and enjoyed it. Then my friend, Matt Thompson, who is my co-angler for the FLW series, asked me to fish a tourney in July, at Lopez Lake. We fished it and won, it was the first time I fished in two months. It felt great to win and it really got me jumped started for the rest of the season. That victory later helped me win the Columbia River FLW Event in Washington. There is always something or someone that can get the motivation back into you so you can enjoy what you love. For me, it’s this great sport of bass fishing. I have gone through trials and tribulations in this sport but I am still in the game and will always be there, one way or another. To get through the grueling seasons we need endurance.
I make sure family is first, then personal and financial. I have added fun fishing back into my fishing as well. I go ocean fishing and trout fishing during the summer just to change the pace. It helps to clear your head and you get to have fun with your friends. I have been to the Kern River this year and had a great time I have been ocean fishing 7 times and had a blast. I have been to several tackle stores just talking fishing and I’ve been doing sports shows and club seminars. If I can get through the Burn-out Monster, I know anyone can! I hope this advice helps you, you’re not alone. Good luck and good fishing.
Accomplishments: FLW Series,2007 1st Place Columbia River, Kennewick, WA, B.A.S.S. Bassmaster Tour, 2004 1st Place Smith Lake, Jasper, AL, along with several top ten finishes between Bassmaster Elites and FLW Series with over $400,000 in career earnings.
Charlie is sponsored by: Phoenix Boats, Mercury Marine, Yamamoto Custom Baits and Lead Enterprises
See more articles like this by subscribing to the print edition of Bass Angler Magazine. Subscribe Now Follow us on Facebook