It’s Bassmaster Classic time and I’m ready.
I’ve spent the last month preparing diligently, working on my equipment and tackle and thinking about Grand Lake.
In fact, I’m dictating this blog as I drive westward to Tulsa and it finally has soaked in – it’s time to get out there and get after ’em!
This marks my 23rd appearance at the Bassmaster Classic, and I can honestly say that it never gets old and the excitement grows with each one.
Just being there is a huge accomplishment. When I look at the field each year, I can make an argument that it’s the best I’ve ever seen. Whether it’s the guys who qualify through B.A.S.S. Nation (Federation), the College B.A.S.S. ranks, Opens or Elites, everyone has battled their way here.
It makes me realize how lucky I am to be here.
Although I’m a competitor, I’m still a true fan of bass fishing. I look forward to the Bassmaster Magazine Classic issue, the festivities, and seeing the outdoor show, which has become the premier show in the industry.
Let’s put it this way; the Classic is often called the Super Bowl of bass fishing, and that’s a fair assessment. I’ve been to a couple of NFL Super Bowls and can tell you the excitement is very similar. I feel the same way going into the arena weigh-in as I do walking into a Super Bowl stadium. There’s electricity there that you just don’t feel at any other event.
I remember how worried I was at my first one. Everyone told me that I’d be overwhelmed and a basket case, so I focused on not “spinning out” instead of enjoying the moment. I didn’t allow myself to enjoy and appreciate it.
Now, when I meet rookies at a Classic, I can see the same nerves and apprehension I had. For that reason, I make a point to remind them how special it is and to allow themselves to enjoy and soak up the spectacle of it.
And for me, this year’s Classic will stand out even more so.
First, my boys Jackson and Nicholas turn 16 on the first competition days. They have been to every Bassmaster Classic since they were born, and that’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
Also, my nephew Jonathon, who has attended several Classics as a fan, will be there as a competitor. It’s really cool for me, having watched him grow up and develop as a professional angler.
Also, I’ve never had a hometown classic, but this one will have a “hometown” feel to it. Tulsa is the home of two of my sponsors, so I’ve been to the city many times.
Quantum, my rod and reel sponsor, has been with me since Day 1. It’s also home of Dynamic Sponsorships, manager of our Toyota team and actively involved with Carhartt, a B.A.S.S. sponsor, which hails from Michigan.
It puts additional pressure on you when you have a strong connection with so many families and sponsors pulling for you. I always have strong family support, but with Jonathon fishing, we’ll have even more.
The aura and spectacle of the Classic is unlike anything else. It’s exciting to see from the stands, but there’s nothing like being there as a competitor.
As a pro angler, this is what we live for.
Remember, it’s all about the attitude!