As the 2003 U.S. Open champion, Ramona’s John Kerr has been to the top of the mountain in the West. Maybe that’s why he appreciates the desert venue as well as the effort it takes to compete during the brutal summers at Lake Mead.

Though he missed the money in this year’s Open, his 30th place finish was not a total bust. Indeed, there may have been more learned this year than when he finished on top.

Perhaps the biggest lessons to come out of the 2010 U.S. Open were the importance to stay focused and to make adjustments to what you encounter, regardless of what you may have discovered in practice.

As John conveyed, “The first two days of practice, everything wanted to jump on topwater and then lower (in the water column) on the spinnerbait.” But he recalled, “As the water got progressively warmer, I only got one blow up on topwater and the spinnerbait bites dried up.”

One of the unusual things he discovered was while taking a dip between the first and last days of practice. “I could feel my neck was warm but my feet were cold,” he said. “The fish did not want to come up. I watched the difference. As the water temperature went up, I got less bites.”

Typically not one to fish for a “consolation check,” the facts of the matter were that he needed only one more 1-pound bass and secondly, that the conditions were not optimum for a pure reaction fishing approach. “What I saw in practice should have told me,” he confessed. “I should have turned my hat around and changed.”

Beyond the clues he uncovered while on the water, a look at the scoreboard was also telling. As John put it, “The worm guys closed the gap. I knew this.”

Still, his practice days of wide open reaction fishing were hard to discount. “It was so good,” he recalled, but he admitted, “I should have done something (different).” Specifically, in looking at the 13 of a possible 15 fish he did weigh in this year’s Open, he had devoted two hours a day to drop-shotting and caught 10 of his fish. “What if I had invested eight hours?” he asked rhetorically.

This is where the issue of focus and decision-making enters in. We’re all pretty smart in our air-conditioned offices with our 20:20 hindsight. But as John noted, “(The heat) was taxing; I hit the wall every day. My stomach was full of water and I’m still thirsty. You find yourself checking out and you tell yourself to ‘Start thinking’, or ask ‘What am I doing here?’

“I checked out half a dozen times in the tournament,” he confessed, but recognizes his perspective is much different a week after the tournament. “It’s easy to second guess. I should have fished a jig and a worm more. I convinced myself to do otherwise.”


2 Responses to “John Kerr: Confessions of a former champion”

I saw first hand the quality of bite John was on in practice. It would have taken one heck of a tough decision to abandon that. Especially since Saturday (the final practice day) was darn good for the reaction bites. It was a feat in itself that he was able to put together a decent accumulation of drop shot fish throughout the tournament.

I’m thinking emulating Gary Yamamoto’s ONE-TON JIG technique when he won might have been a radical change from the topwater/spinnerbait bite……but when they won’t bite, I do a 180, and do a deep water reaction bite, and as Gary proved, it works out there… big time! Glad you survived the heat John, you’ll get ’em next year!!