BassWestUSA - March/April, 2011, Page 20

DEREK’S EARLY DAYS LEADING TO THE ELITES

Derek Remitz became an instant sensation during his rookie year on the Bassmaster Elite Series when he won the second Elite event of 2007 on Lake Amistad, Texas in February, 2007. At the next stop on the California Delta in March, he placed second and then took fi fth on Clarks Hill, Georgia in April 2007. Rookie Remitz didn’t just explode onto the Elite scene from out of nowhere in 2007, although it certainly seemed that way as he stole the spotlight for his stellar fi rst season on the Elites. Derek brought some fi nely-honed skills with him in order to explode onto the scene like that, right out of the starting gate. A look at his FLW and BASS career history shows he’s a veteran, at a very young age, of 50 FLW-sanctioned tournaments and 84 BASS- sanctioned events, a total of 134 events with those two organizations as well as countless other regional and local tournaments since 2001. We’re probably talking about hundreds of tournaments under his belt by the time Derek broke into the Elites. So it is not like Remitz just dropped out of the sky in 2007. He had quite a few years of experience building up to that breakthrough moment. Growing up in Minnesota, Derek worked hard on his family’s sod farm during the farming season. When he came of an age where he could travel with his Dad and uncle, they’d head south for the winter to Missouri, Oklahoma or somewhere that the water wasn’t frozen over, so they’d have the winter off to go fi shing. That’s where Derek started fi shing a lot of the BFLs and weekend series when he was younger and still green around the gills. “My uncle and my Dad would help me out a lot just in terms of traveling with me the fi rst year or two of the off-season. My uncle used to fi sh quite a few tournaments too (opens, BFLs, Red Mans) and he had been to some of those lakes in that region of the country before like Grand Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. He’d help me out since he had fi shed there before. He knew how to catch fi sh there, whereas I was really green around the gills. I probably couldn’t have found a bass by myself back then and my basic approach was just a lot of trial and error.” Remitz really started to fi sh tournaments in earnest and on his own in 2004 when he moved to Hemphill, Texas to spend the winters on Toledo Bend Reservoir. He was able to fi sh tournaments there in the wintertime because that was his off time on the sod farm. Derek believes, “That’s something that was the biggest thing that helped

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had a win on Amistad in February 2007, snatched second on the California Delta in March and took fth on Clarks Hill, Georgia in April. Impressive in- deed for this rookie’s rst few months on the Bassmaster Elites! Derek feels his biggest transformation or evolution as an angler came after his rst bang-up season on the Elites. The next two seasons, the sched- uled Elite stops and dates changed so the tour was going to Kentucky Lake, Guntersville, Wheeler and places like them - all these good offshore shing lakes where deep cranking and a lot of offshore structure shing came into play. “I was just never that good with a crankbait up until then. We just didn’t do that type of offshore shing a lot back home in Minnesota,” Derek reminisces. Over the 2008 and 2009 seasons on the Elites, Derek didn’t fare as well as in 2007. “Seasons seem to go in one direction – up or down,” Derek says. “When you’re having a good year, it’s like you can’t make a wrong move; but when you’re having a bad year, it has a wicked snowball effect and you start making a stack of bad decisions on top of each other.” The tough times he endured in 2008 and 2009 changed Remitz as a sherman. “I really just got sick of getting beat by all the other guys, so I reckoned I better start doing what they are doing in order to catch up to them. I’m not having such a one track mind anymore. I just used to go drag; shing slow was always my kind of deal up until then.” It really helped evolve his skills by moving down south too. He’s been living on Lake Guntersville and has gotten fairly familiar with it and with Kentucky Lake, which he says is like Guntersville, except has a little deeper ledges. He was now learning new techniques that were ideal for lakes like these and being able to catch sh in new ways transformed him. “My new style means I have a lot of crankbaits on deck now, and that’s really the best way to catch big bass on lakes like these that have a lot of shad where the bass school up on the ledges. Now I just assume anywhere the Elites go that’s on a lake with deep ledges, I can throw a deep-diving crankbait and feel con dent. I would have never said that three years ago,” admits a much stronger Remitz. Adaptability, versatility and living on location are the biggest keys to his progress as a pro. “Moving to Alabama opened me up to the things I’d need to do to stay competitive. The lakes here are set up to sharpen the skills that have been needed to be a money maker on the Elites in recent years.” The payback came in 2010, a season which t Derek’s new style better. “We hit a lot of places where you could throw a crankbait and sh fast. I just started shing a lot faster, and I had a 5th and a 6th place nish in 2010.” In February, 2011, Derek cranked his way into third in the Bassmaster Classic on the Louisiana Delta. In March, 2011 he nished second in the PAA event on Lake Lanier, Georgia, leaving no doubt that Derek’s evolution in progress suits him well!

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Remitz feels, “You sh against yourself, your own awareness, your prac- tice...You’re pretty much your own worst enemy out here. You can overana- lyze everything too much, make the wrong decisions, and in shing, every- thing has a snowball effect. If you make one bad move, then something happens and you make another bad move, and you’re not thinking right, so you wipe yourself out of the game. You are only shing against yourself and the sh because you can’t control what all the other 99 guys are doing. All you can control is what you are doing on that particular tournament day, and it is very important to stay mentally tough. You can’t worry about anything else except for what is going on in your boat at any given second. As long as you believe you are doing the right thing, you stick with it. You’ve got to stay strong and stay positive, and it gets tougher to do that from day one to day two to day three. It’s a big mental game really. The trick is if you can stay positive. Everyone in the Elites, they are all there for a reason. They are all that good, the best in the world. So you just have to keep telling yourself that you are not shing against them. My philosophy is to catch what you can catch any given day and let the cards fall where they may. All you can do is to try to be smart on the water and make the right decisions. If you

ON BEING YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY

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March/April 2011