As another season comes to a close, I find myself experiencing mixed emotions. On the one hand, I’m disappointed. No one wants to finish the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race in 90th place. It’s horrible. It hurts. I wanted so bad to have a good year. It didn’t happen. There’s no way I can fix that now.
On the other hand, I’m gratified to see all the support I have. I see it in the comments to this blog and I see it as I travel around this great country fishing. It’s been a while since I’ve been at a ramp and someone didn’t come up, say hi, and want to talk bass fishing. Until recently, I didn’t realize how many people understand what it means to chase a dream, to work at something with a single-minded purpose.
It started when I was a little kid, diapers little. All I can ever remember wanting to do was catch a fish. We’d go on family vacations, and I’d catch perch through the slats in the dock by our cabin. When I got a little older I’d fish for catfish in a trough set up at the Ohio State Fair here in Columbus by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The other kids ate cotton candy, devoured elephant ears and rode the roller coaster. I fished the trough.
After that I dedicated most of my life to bass fishing. That’s how I spent my time and my money. Truthfully, I didn’t do anything else except go to work. I lived with a single-minded purpose — to be a professional bass angler and fish at the highest levels.
To me being a professional is about more than catching fish. It’s about playing by the rules, setting the right example, helping others develop their fishing skills, and never forgetting that the less fortunate in our society sometimes need a little help. I try to do those things every hour of every day.
Obviously, I’ve had some really tough spots with the catching fish part. But I’ve had my share of successes. I made it to the highest level there is in our sport, the Bassmaster Elite Series. In my mind, there’s no bigger thrill than to launch your boat on a Thursday morning knowing you’re competing against the best our sport has to offer, and that you’re one of them.
I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I talk about Signcom a lot on this blog. I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished there. In some ways, it’s my life’s work. I’ll tell you, though, that if I had to make a choice between it and fishing I’d choose fishing, and it wouldn’t take me one second to do it.
Thanks again to those of you who support me and express that support in the comments to my blog, at the ramp, or anywhere else. Know that your support means the world to me. Know, too, that I love what I do and that I won’t stop doing it until they bury me.