As I start off a new year with a new column, I have a great feeling of excitement and anticipation for what 2014 might bring. As a professional fisherman, one thing you learn really quickly is that there are very few guarantees. I think that’s very applicable for me, as a fisherman and as a person.
I have several special memories from the 2013 tournament season, but I’m handling some of them differently than others. For starters, I’m really thankful that I’m coming off the biggest year of my career. I won the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on Bull Shoals Lake, along with two other national level events on Beaver Lake and Grand Lake.
I believe momentum has a lot to do with a fisherman’s performance, but I’m looking at 2014 for exactly what it is — a new set of tournaments. I’m not making any assumptions and I’m committed to fishing every one like it’s my first. Do I want to win again? You bet I do, but nothing that happened last year will make a fish bite this year.
It would be easy for me to walk into 2014 and say: “I’m the guy who won three events last year,” but nobody cares. The past is the past and my objective for 2014 is to treat it like a new year.
On the other hand, I have three items from that special season that I will carry with me into 2014. Every year my daughters (Ali, Ana and Jaslyn) each give me something to carry for good luck. Last year, my girls gave me a seashell, a piece of flowered duct tape and a woven friendship bracelet. In honor of the 2013 season, I asked my sister to use her craft skills to transform those items into one solid piece, a pendant that I can wear around my neck.
I told you earlier about Jason Christie, the fisherman; this is Jason Christie, the person. I’m wearing this special pendant this year not because I think it had any direct connection to winning three events. I’m wearing it because those individual charms that it’s made from remind me of something that’s a whole lot more motivating and long-lasting than tournament wins — my family.
This job I’ve chosen is hard on them. It’s hard to leave them, so from the time I pull out until the time I return, I’m thinking about my work. I might come across as kind of quiet, but it’s just because I’m totally focused on how to catch that next fish.
I think the love and support I get from my family helps me maintain this focus and that’s a big part of the consistency that I strive for. Yes, I was thrilled to win three tournaments in 2013 — I’m still excited. But the one major goal that I had set for 2013 was to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic through the points. Doing that really meant a lot to me.
I’m certainly hoping to do that again this season and I will be doing my best to claim another win. I’m thankful that a lot of my sponsors have anteed up in a big way, so I don’t have to worry about having the best equipment to do my job.
Elbow surgery during the off-season should help, too. The doctors did some things to relieve a nagging pain I was experiencing, and after some rehab, I’m now feeling ready to fish. I’ll know how my elbow’s doing after the first three Elite events. Those Southern venues mean a lot of flipping with braided line and that kind of stress will test your body and tell you how everything’s working.
Either way, I’ll probably just keep my head down and keep fishing — that’s just how I am. If you see me at one of the tournaments or at a sponsor event, please don’t hesitate to come up and introduce yourself. I’m not the most talkative guy on the circuit, but I really do enjoy meeting this sport’s incredible fans and I surely do love to talk fishing. (I’ll even show you that charm I’m wearing around my neck.)
On the road, I’ll have my satellite radio tuned to The Highway (country music) station and, if there’s a decent Mexican restaurant in town, you can bet I’ll stop in for a dinner or two.
Along the way, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the bass fishing scene. I’ll try to mix things up with a good blend of how-to instruction, tournament forecasts and recaps, tales from the road and maybe even a little personal insight here and there. I’m excited about the New Year and I’m going to do my best to make it another big success.