It feels good to wipe your brow and take a deep breath, look at the end of a long, demanding stretch and know that you’ve earned a little rest. That’s where I am right now while the Bassmaster Elite Series has a break until we head to the Delaware River in early August.
I don’t know how my fellow anglers are going to spend their down time, but I know what my priority is – four ladies that I’ve missed a whole lot while I’ve been out chasing fish for a living. I love my job, so don’t hear me wrong. But I love my wife and daughters more and, while the job helps me do what I want to for them, there’s nothing better than returning home to the people that give me the strength to continue this demanding journey.
June was pretty tough, as I was on the road for a month straight. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that if I can get through this next week, I get to go home to my family.
I realize how tough it has been on my family, but sometimes I don’t know if they understand how hard it is on me to be away from them. We get pretty good at the steely-eyed game face, but I don’t mind dropping that guard for a moment to say that there’s been times when it’s nearly unbearable to be apart from my wife and daughters.
But I’m thankful to be home now and I’m not going anywhere without them for several weeks. This time is all about them – it’s about catching up and reminding them, and myself, about what’s really important in my life.
They know I have to commit a lot of time and effort to my job, but I want them to know that when I’m home, they are my priority. This is so important to me that when I got in recently, I didn’t want them to see me doing anything work related so I unloaded my boat and my truck while they were all still asleep.
So, what do we have planned for this time off? For starters, I can tell you that the timing is great. My daughters are involved in several athletic programs, but the summer leagues have a lot of downtime in July. Basically, we’re all off and we intend to take advantage of this schedule.
We’ll go fishing far up the Illinois River and take a small grill, tie up a rope swing, sit in the shade and just hang out. That sounds simple, but that’s what my kids like. The hot weather makes fishing tough on kids, so when we go, it’s very laidback and I’ll let them determine how long they feel like sticking with it.
With my daughters and my wife, my biggest priority is showing them how much I’ve missed them by tailoring our schedule entirely around their interests. Basically, I intend to get up every morning and ask them “What do you want to do today,” and then that’s what we’ll do.
Every day I’m home will be special, but my wife and I celebrate our 17th anniversary in mid-July and that’s nice because I’m usually out of town. We’ll go out to a nice dinner and maybe a movie – the things we don’t get to do when I’m on the road.
The only thing work-related I have on my schedule is ICAST in Orlando, Fla. Summer is an important time for me and my sponsors because that’s when we start rolling out the new items for fall 2014 and discussing plans for next year’s new products. Orlando is a fun town, so I’ll bring my family with me to enjoy the area.
Along with the joy of being with my family, this break lets me catch my breath and regain my energy and focus. This is kind of the halftime and it allows me to build up for that last part of the year.
The way it works out, I get this break, then I head back for that last part of the season. In addition to the ongoing desire to get home to my family, the thing that helps get me through that last stretch of tournaments is hunting season. I’ll be looking forward to putting the fishing gear away and pulling out the hunting gear.
During this summer break, I need to get a handle on my yard – I know that’s something I have to address. But for now, my priority is my family.
If we’re not off having fun together on the river, I have a leather recliner that sits 15 feet from my big screen TV. And if I’m not there, I plan on spending a lot of time by the pool cooking dinner on the Big Green Egg or relaxing in the lounge chairs while I watch my kids splash around.
It’s good to be home.