2011 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #3 Douglas Lake - Jefferson County, TN, Jun 2 - 4, 2011

The Journey

Goals are a very vital part of life as well as an extremely important part of success. When I was younger an older man asked me a very simple question. He asked if I knew the secret to life? Of course with the infinite knowledge base of youth I replied, yes, happiness! To which he replied sure if you can find it. At that time I thought he was a little off his nut, I was already happy.

After college I got involved in the creative side of advertising. I did it all from buying media, printing, illustrating, writing radio and television commercials, ad layouts and campaign strategy, you might say I was a jack of all things advertising. This was a crazy and very hectic time in my life. I fished semi pro and worked my tail off until all hours of the night all week long just so I could fish three days a week. I hunted, fished, skied, road moto cross and partied hardy, but I was happy. Very happy, in fact, but going nowhere, as fast as I lived.

It was sometime in my very late twenties that I realized I did not know the secret of life the old man was speaking of. I wound up searching for this secret for some time. In fact it was not until I was thirty three that it hit me. I began sharing my life with my now wife Rachel and my son Frankie. Soon we had a litter of our own and life changed fast.

My father (hunting and fishing partner) passed away when he was 58 years old. A week before my father died we were having some beers and talking about things we really wanted to do. His big goal after he raised his family was to open an elk ranch somewhere in Wyoming, and of course mine was to become a B.A.S.S. pro. I asked him why he doesn’t just do it? He said, I am waiting for the right time. His time was up a week later.

This was a sad day for me but in all the turmoil and grief I made a major discovery. I had it all, except for my life dream and goal of becoming a professional angler. I was not going to wait until the time was right, it was now or never. While sitting at my father’s wake I looked at Rachel and said I am going to try to qualify for the Pro Tour (the now Elite Series). She said go for it! At that point I hit the ground running, and never looked back.

Life decisions suddenly became easier. From that point on any decision I made would be a yes as long as it was getting me closer to my goal of becoming a professional B.A.S.S. fisherman. Now don’t get me wrong there were struggles mostly financial, until my advertising background became my ally in regards to sponsor solicitation and then working with them to strengthen our marketing relationship.

 A couple of Classics later and a several years as a fulltime professional angler left me tired and pondering the decision I had made eight years earlier. Was I really happy? Is this really what I expected? What was the secret to life? I had everything I needed, so why the burn-out?

At Table Rock lake I met the owner of a new pub Lance his establishment is called Fish Tales. Lance and I talked quite a bit, I thought he was at that location for years turns out it was just a week. He already had a Cheeres like atmosphere in the place and it was a blast. I will most definitely be there this fall.

Right before the Douglas Lake tournament I had to work the Lowe’s Jimmy Johnson country music concert (The Jimmy Jam) and then work the Lowe’s show at their headquarters. The hours were long but the people were great and the time flew by.

I found myself with two extra days before I was scheduled to be at Douglas, so I went early in order to get a lay of the land. I discovered the ramp we were scheduled to go out of for the tournament was going to be tight with all of the competitors and of course there was that narrow bridge. The bridge is a historical landmark, can barely squeeze two boats wide and will stand forever, unless mother-nature removes it, because the town will never move it. So I did some recon in order to find an alternate ramp to use and by God I found one. I will not mention the name of the place so the fine residence can have peace and quiet in their private sanctuary.

Any how the gang (Smokey View Crappie Crew) I met down there was phenomenal. Denny, Paul, Coty, Doug, Rick, Jennifer, Brenda, Jan and Anthony his two boys Cody and Brandon, this was most assuredly the highlight of my experience at Douglas Lake. I got permission for myself and Christiana Bradly (Gieco Boat) to launch there and this is how it went.

In the morning someone would be at the ramp we would slide the boats into the lake one of the Crappie Crew would then take the trucks to the field for us and we would leave for the day. Now it was the end of the day I liked best. One of the crew would get the truck back it into the water and have a nice cold beverage waiting on ice, then they would pull boat and truck next to the trailer with a deck full of people and we would sit around and tell stories and laugh while consuming a few cold ones. Just to let you know canned pickles, bottles of wine as well as some clear beverage in a mason jar were some of my parting gifts. That was truly very special to me and a thanks is definitely in order. I find myself reflecting back to the Crappie Crew and missing them and their hospitality.

I had a similar experience while at Sam Rayburn with Eddy Stags and his gang. Then there was the man I met at the Open Championship many years ago on the Coosa river. Freelan Moore, he has poor night vision so I said I will be his driver while we competed at the championship, we became friends and I try to see him when I drive through the town he lives in.

My now friend Warren who resides in Alabama was a non-boater of mine in Florida at the St. Johns. We hit a submerged telephone pole while running through Lake George and literally split my boat down the center. The boat stayed afloat and we called for a tow, any how it was 7 am when we collided into the tournament ending obstruction and around 10 pm by the time I got back to my hotel. Warren and I have become great friends since. He and his wife visited me at the Classic in Birmingham and I have stayed at his home and we fished together for fun. He had a hawk eating from his hands after the tornado this year and sent me the video, he knows I like hawks.

As I look back I have met some great non boaters as recent as the last tournament at the James, a man named Terry who lives on the James taught me more about the tides in that system in one day than I could have learned in a week. My first day non-boater at the James is rock singer named Brian turns out we have some of the same friends (MARK ZONA) for one. It is truly a small world, I would love to share my experiences with other non-boaters and some pro’s as well but there are too many to mention.

Oh yah, back to the goals. Setting goals is an important part of success, however, it seems today we are so driven and so focused on the achievement of our goals we lose sight of the forest in the trees.

The old man new the secret to life, he knew happiness and he understood how to achieve it.

The most important thing you must focus on is exactly what you are doing at that minute. Remember the best part of a goal is the journey.

Thanks to all I have met during my journey and look forward to the many more.

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