Fishing Life: Bass Pro John Hunter's #1 Tip for a Stronger Mental Game

This is part of a multi-part series on pro bass angler John Hunter.

(2 minutes to read)

JB: When you’re fishing, how do you handle the unexpected?

JH: The cool thing about fishing is that it hardly ever goes the way you think it’s going to go and the way you want it to go. Which is another reason why I love it so much. It’s a game of unknowns. You’ve got to be prepared to change on the fly, change on the conditions. You’ve got to be ready to go, to move. You’ve got to be able to adapt at any time. 

But it’s also a game - you lose a lot more than you win. 

Take baseball -- you’re going to fail more than you’re going to succeed when you’re up at bat. A good batting average in the Big Leagues is .300. So you’re going to fail seven out of ten times. Fishing is probably right around that, too. You’re going to lose some. But it was really tough, particularly at the beginning of last year, which was my first year fishing professionally. I wasn’t working a lot and I was basically all in for a year to try and give it a go.

At the start of the year, I was 170th on Okeechobee in my first tournament in the Rayovac series. Then my next tournament was on a lake I was familiar with - I thought I was going to do really great. And I made a bunch of bad decisions as far as fishing goes, and I ended up finishing 152nd out of like 250. Those were some of the worst finishes I’ve had in my life. 

It’s hard not to get down, because you worked really hard to get where you’re at, and you’re chasing the dream, and you fall flat on your face. And it’s hard to keep the questions out of your head: Should I really be doing this? Is this meant for me? 

With fishing, you just have to bury those things and stay positive, because you never know - you might go out and win the next one. So last season, I tried to stay positive and have a short memory, and I didn’t miss a check the rest of the year.

You know, you’ll see guys get on this run, and it’s all about momentum. It’s just crazy. It’s like they can’t do any wrong. And that shows you how much of a mental game it is. Because when you’re hot, you’re hot. You’re in the zone. And when people get down, they get kind of in a slump.

It’s like a lot of things in life. It’s all upstairs in your head. 

JB: Where do you see the fishing life taking you? 

JH: What you just asked me is something I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. Because I feel like the better vision I have of what I’m doing five years from now, the easier it will be to reach that. If I know where I want to be, who I want to be, and what I want to be doing, then I can start now, working my way to get there.

I would love to still be doing this. I think it’s a really great possibility. In order to do that, I’m going to have to catch some fish and keep my sponsors happy. I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be possible.

The competitive side of me wants to be the best there is. So in five years, I see myself being one of the top guys in the sport. That’s who I want to be. 

[Content edited and condensed - Jesse Bastide]

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