Philip Jarabeck went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows at the Forrest Wood Cup.
After rebounding from a three-fish stringer on day 1 to catch 17-00 on day 2 and take the lead at the halfway point of the tournament, his momentum came to a screeching halt on day 3. He weighed in two fish for 4-00 and missed the Top-10 cut at his first Cup as a pro by 1 ounce.
He was visibly shaken after the day-3 weigh-in, but later said the whole experience will serve as a teaching tool.
"It was definitely a positive experience," he said. "Look at the field I was surrounded by. There were some of the best guys in fishing. I can't walk away with any bitterness finishing 11th in that field. I feel very blessed to finish where I did.
"I want to be at that championship even more now because once you have the opportunity and you can sit in that seat, you envision it even more and it gives you more drive, so I'm excited for the years to come."
On day 2, he'd caught a couple big fish shallow on a buzzbait, and then retreated to stumpy, rocky humps and brush piles in 20 to 25 feet of water to finish off his limit.
"At one point, my co-angler said to me that I was making it look easy," Jarabeck said.
Day 3 was anything but easy.
"I felt comfortable going out Saturday," he said. "I had enough deep holes where I felt like I could catch three good fish. We had an extended morning with the cloud cover so I decided to go shallow to try to catch some big ones and I caught just one 2-pounder."
He moved out to some brush piles, but couldn’t get bit with a dropshot.
"Of the 15 places, I'd say 10 of them I really had confidence that they were there," he said, "but they weren't there. I just didn't get bit. There were definitely some fish on my graph, but the problem was the number of trash fish in that lake like white bass and gar make it hard to tell for sure if they were bass. I knew that if he lived there, I was dropping it down on the right place. I couldn't tell if I caught all of the resident fish.
"My theory is that those fish were feeding on herring in the morning, then they'd find their way back to the cover when it got hot. With the cloud cover, instead of roaming and feeding in say a 200-yard radius, maybe they went further that morning and didn't com back until later. Either way, it was an absolute light switch that got turned off."
The Big Bite Lookback, which focuses on the angler who's first out of the final cut at each tour-level event, is brought to you by the great folks at Big Bite Baits.