Saturday, August 10, 2013

Christie's Conundum

Jason Christie - B.A.S.S. Photo by James Overstreet
It's hard to not wonder what Jason Christie is thinking today as he works the smallmouth-rich waters of New York's St. Lawrence River.

On one hand he must be glad to have made the cut and earned a check for at least $10,000, and by theory at least to still be in contention to win the tournament. On the other hand, practice begins tomorrow morning for the Forrest Wood Cup, the FLW Tour championship that carries a top prize of 1/2 million dollars, and he's more than 20 hours drive away from the venue. And when it comes down to it, he's 20 places and more than 7 pounds back in a tournament where the guys in front of him have been absolutely whacking them, so he's chances of winning this weekend are pretty slim.

As of this morning, Christie was only a pound and a half out of the Top 12 cut. Were he to get a good bag today, he could easily move up just enough to be fishing again tomorrow. That would mean missing all of the first day of practice for the Cup and much of the second day, I would have to think. He's using the same boat for both events, so even if he could get an evening flight out, his boat wouldn't arrive in Louisiana for close to a fully day after it leaves New York. He has a friend helping with the driving, and last I knew he didn't know if he would fly or go with the truck and boat. I also don't know whether practicing in a different boat part of the time is a legal and legitimate option.

If today he were to catch them well enough to maybe make the 12 but didn't see himself legitimately in contention to win, I wonder if he'd even be tempted to cull a larger fish for a small one so he could get on the road. As a winner of another Elite Series event this year, he already had his Bassmaster Classic ticket punched. Meanwhile, the Red River, where the Cup will be held, is the sort of fishery where Christie seems to do the very best. Shallow, stained and thick with cover, it lends itself wonderfully to pitching a Wooly Bug, or bouncing a shallow Bomber or a spinnerbait off lots of cover. And again, it's the championship -- a career-changing event that's far bigger than the big check that comes with winning it.

I've not talked to Christie at all about any of this and honestly don't know him well, and I haven't read stories written since he made the cut that quoted him regarding his thought processes. It could be that he's far too competive to even think about the next event -- no matter what it is -- until he's done everything in his power to try to win the one he is fishing. I'm just curious what he's thinking about as he fishes today. Can he focus on catching smallmouths and trying to place as high as possible on the St. Lawrence, or is he strategizing Red River largemouths or mentally playing out every possible travel scenario even as he fishes for New York smallmouths?

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