On Friday, No. 5 came with 10 minutes left. The day was extremely trying, Browning said, so much so he told his co-angler it was the toughest limit he’d ever caught. Surprising since Browning has excelled on Ross Barnett. He was 15th in the Elite event there last year and posted a fifth and a second in Opens in 2015 and 2014. In 1998, he led the Barnett Open after Day 1 before finishing 21st.
“You don’t think I wasn’t a nervous wreck? I thought about it late on Day 2. ‘Dadgummit man, you’re streak is over here.’ This has always been a good pond to me,” he said, kind of giving himself a pep talk. “‘Don’t get discouraged. Just keep fishing it.’ I catch 5 and a 3 at end of day; the streak is alive.”
That 16-1 bag was a huge boost to Browning’s confidence as well as jumping him 32 spots up the leaderboard to fifth. He gives a ton of credit to a big switch in equipment after Day 1, calling it the difference between winning and losing.
“I went to a longer 7-10 rod, a faster reel and heavier line,” he said. “If I had stuck with what I had on Day 1, I would have never won that tournament. Never.”
On Day 3, the winning fish came with five minutes left in his day. In the morning, about six of the final 12 were fishing in the area where Browning believed the event would be won. He caught one early and ran to other spots, knowing he needed to spend his final hour and a half there.
In practice, he told Beau and Lamb the event would be won along this specific grass line, and he caught seven of his keepers there. He even pointed out a specific spot that might hold a kicker.
“I had told the guys, this is a winning place right here,” he said. “There won’t be a lot of fish out here, but I guarantee they’ll be the right ones. That little clump of reeds right there — it sits out there by itself — that’s the place where you can catch a big one.”
Back in his favored area, Browning’s run began. He caught two 5-pounders, one at 12:30 on the reeds, and another 15 minutes later. He knew he now had a chance to win. An hour passed before his next bite, a 2 ¾. Then at 2 p.m. with five minutes before he had to run in, he filled his limit with a 2-pounder.
“I had a lot of confidence,” Browning said. “I had a gut feeling and really utilized a lot of patience. This time of year, there’s that bite that happens in the afternoon. I stayed focus and had that gut feeling that if you just keep chunking line, you’re going to eventually get one.
“The whole event set up the way I normally win. It seems like every time when I win one of these Opens, fishing gets tougher, yet I get better.”
Browning’s two other Opens wins were on the Red River in 2013 and 2014. His first victory was in a 1998 Top 150 on Alabama’s Logan Martin Lake. This win came after probably his most disappointing Elite season, in which he only made two cuts. It serves as affirmation that he can still get things done.
“I was just watching golf and saw Phil Mickelson win. He’s 47, and I just texted a buddy of mine that these old blue hairs still have it,” said Browning, admitting fishing is a crazy sport. “If you really put it in perspective — how many tournament fishermen there are and how many at this level there are — you almost have to have a loose screw to be able to do this.
Originally posted on Bassmaster Go to Source
Author: Mike Suchan
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