It’s been a while since 2006 when I last won a B.A.S.S. professional event. (That doesn’t count the 2009 Elite Series Postseason #1 on Lake Jordan.) I have to say it feels good to be back in the winner’s circle. The thing about Lake Erie is that it did so many things for me and for my career. A huge amount of pressure has been lifted off my shoulders.
The first thing is that it put me in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville. That’s a big deal. My goals each year have never been a secret. One of them is to make the Classic through the Elite Series. That didn’t happen, but I did qualify. How any angler got there won’t make the slightest bit of difference a minute after we launch.
The other thing is that I now have an Open win. That makes my résumé complete — for now. I wrote about that several weeks ago and have mentioned it in a number of interviews. I wanted an Open win. It finally came my way. That’s a really good feeling.
I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t a little bothered by my lack of wins and by my struggle to qualify for next year’s Classic. It’s not like I haven’t had my share of success over the years but I didn’t win and that’s what everyone wants to see, and no one wants to not make the Classic.
But the real thing about Lake Erie is what it says about life and how we approach it. I’ve always said that that no one can ever give up, not if you want to be successful and happy. The win up there says a lot about that.
On Wednesday, the day before the tournament started, I would have had to tell you that this was the worst year I’ve had as a professional angler. I couldn’t get it done. It just wasn’t happening for me. It seemed like I was struggling on almost every level when it came to my fishing.
And then, in no time at all, everything changed. My year went from bad to wonderful in a matter of three days. Now I can honestly say that 2013 was one of my best, and most memorable seasons. Not only did I qualify for next year’s Classic but I managed to put an Open win in the record books.
The way things went is a positive reinforcement for my way of thinking. It’s a statement that’s not so much about winning a fishing tournament as it is about how to approach life. Things look bleak sometimes but then if you keep at it and never give up things often turn around, or at least work out for the better. That’s something we should all keep in mind.
That’s enough philosophizing for now. Next week I’m going to do a three or four part series on exactly how I put things together for the win. Maybe it’ll help somebody else sometime.
Hey, thanks to everyone who voted for me for the Toyota All-Star Week. I really appreciate the support. I’ll do my best to make you proud.