By Todd Ceisner
As the 2012 season wound down, Peter Thliveros found a willing buyer for his tournament boat. When the buyer was ready to complete the deal earlier than expected, Thliveros didn’t think twice about it – he closed the sale.
Without a boat, he sat out the final FLW Tour Open of the year at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, but it was probably just as well considering how the Floridian’s season had gone up until then.
He had just finished 64th at the Wheeler Lake Open. The tournament before that, at the Detroit River Open, he was 108th. The one before that, at the final Tour Major at Lake Champlain, he was 92nd. You get the picture.
All told, he banked just two checks in nine events, a far cry from the consistency he’s displayed throughout his 20-plus years as a pro. It was hardly the season he was hoping for, either, as he made the transition from the Bassmaster Elite Series to the FLW Tour.
“It was an opportunity to recharge,” he said, referring to the time off since Wheeler. “I knew I wasn’t going to (pre-qualify for next year’s Cup) and the way I was fishing, I knew I wasn’t going to make any money. I needed to clear my head. I wanted to see if I could regroup a little bit. It was truly an awful year. I caught lots of fish and at one point, I was in pretty good position to make the (Forrest Wood Cup) and felt good about it all. As the year progressed, everything just seemed to go backwards on me.”
Adjustments Were Lacking
The main culprit behind Thliveros’ struggles was his hesitance to adjust on the fly. He had his mind made up how he was going to fish at most tournaments and tried to force it or stayed with a certain approach much longer than he should have.
“In this sport, that’s the whole key – adjusting to situations that you’re in – and I was doing a lousy job of it,” he said. “I’d catch fish through practice and when things changed, I just did not change with them and it really hurt me in the long run.”
The most glaring example, he said, was at the Potomac River Major, where he finished 91st.
“I had such a doggone good practice there and was catching such good fish,” he said. “It was poor planning on my part because I never bothered to look at a weather forecast to see what was going to happen. I wasn’t expecting the changes that occurred. That’s shame on me. I, basically, did not make the adjustments.
“On the first day, I had a decent enough day to think it would work. On the second day, I tried to do a few things differently because the water was clearing up and I went back to where I had more water to fish than I did. I did, but the fish shrank and I had a short day so by the time the day had ended, so had my opportunities. I was out of time and it all kind of fell to pieces.”
Earlier in his career, he was more than willing to make adjustments throughout a day and through the course of an event. He said stubbornness began to creep into his mind and once it did, he got locked in.
“For lack of a better term, it was laziness and just wanting to make it work my way and to heck with everything else,” he said. “I’d think, ‘I was catching them good in practice this way and there’s no need to change. The fish are here. I’m going to do this my way.’ That kind of attitude just doesn’t get you anywhere at the end of it all.
“My biggest problem was the fact that I was comfortable with what I was doing and where I was doing it and I didn’t feel like I needed to make the adjustments. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘I’m good enough to make it happen the way I want it to happen.’ It cost me at Wheeler and a lot of tournaments this year. I had a lot of good practices and either refused to believe that it wasn’t going to work or I had just a good enough practice to think that it was going to get better or I was just going to make it better. It just didn’t turn out that way. It was weird all the way around for me.”
Transition Was A Challenge
After Denny Brauer and George Cochran announced their retirements this past fall, Thliveros said he’s been getting asked a lot about his future. He understands why, but in no way is he ready to step away. He still has the competitive drive to get on the water every day and figure the fish out, and now that he’s made the move to FLW, where he says the atmosphere is more relaxed, he’s anxious to get back on track in 2013.
Naturally, with FLW scrapping the Opens next year, one would think he’d at least entertain the thought of going back to B.A.S.S., but he’d have to re-qualify for the Elites through the Bassmaster Opens and that’s not a route he’s interested in anymore. To augment his schedule next year, he’ll fish the Southeastern EverStarts.
“I don’t have any plans or desire to go back fishing the B.A.S.S. Opens,” he said. “I’m one of these guys who puts all of his eggs in one basket and I’m going to stick with FLW. I’m comfortable there. Regardless of how I felt at this time last year, it still has been a little bit of a transition. I fished B.A.S.S. for 26 years, and to all of sudden not fish it, it took some adjusting.
“In my mind, I had to learn how to fish with these guys over at FLW. It’s a much more relaxed atmosphere. You don’t feel like you’re under the gun the whole time. I’m really enjoying the pace and the attitude of the people I’m fishing with. All of those things are coming together for me and I think I’m settling in now. I think there’s an adjustment period, regardless if you feel like there is or isn’t one. I feel like I’ve gone through it and I feel like I’m in a good spot.”
He cited the business model on the Elite Series as being a motivating factor behind his switching circuits.
“I didn’t have a title sponsor to pay my entry fees and if I’m paying for it out of my own pocket, it just makes better business sense,” he said. “The (FLW) entry fees are less, the expenses are less and the opportunity to win is the same or more with Ranger Cup bonus money.
“The payout is deeper and you are fishing against 50 more anglers, but so what. When I started in this thing, I was fishing against 300 guys. Fishing against 50 more guys isn’t going to change my way of thinking. I’m going to keep fishing the way I always have. That was the major thing – the money. Looking back, it is a different group of anglers with FLW. It seems to be more my style now.”
> Thliveros has never thought highly of the Red River, site of the 2013 Forrest Wood Cup, so it’ll be a bittersweet deal if he ends up qualifying. He loves the hospitality and facilities the area has to offer, but as far as fishing goes, he can think of dozens of other places he’d rather go.
“The reason I’ve disliked the Red River is the logistics of it,” he said. “It’s not a body of water where you can just pull up to a spot and fish and if they’re not there leave. It takes so long and if you don’t have somebody show you how to get in and out of these places in a timely fashion you’re behind the 8-ball. It’s a great place to have a tournament like that, but at the same time it’s a sorry place for me to want to go to fish.”