At the start of the 2012 Bassmaster Elite Series, I, like all the other 99 anglers, set a goal of making the Bassmaster Classic. I figured that if I could do that the Rookie of the Year title would be a good possibility, too. Cliff Prince had a great run over the past few events and made it very interesting. I congratulate him on making the 2013 Classic as well. It is a huge accomplishment to make the Classic, and I could not be more excited for both of us. Cliff is a very solid guy and a great angler. He’s the real deal.
On the Toyota Hooked Up! stage on the final Day of Oneida, Mark Zona asked me if I was up all night celebrating. Since then, several other folks have asked how I was planning to commemorate the event. The evening after I won was the Elite Series year-end banquet so I got to spend time with my fellow competitors and their families as well as the folks from B.A.S.S. and official sponsors. It was a very special event put on by Ramada, and we all really enjoyed a time to reflect on the season. Congrats to Brent Chapman for winning the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year.
As for commemorating the accomplishment, I went back to work. On Monday, I drove to the St. Lawrence River in New York to begin practicing for the 2013 Elite Series. We will be back up there in August 2013 so I took the opportunity to take a look around before heading home to Tennessee. The place is loaded with smallmouth so I am very excited about that one next year. One area I need to improve on is fishing up north so extra time on the water for a couple days was just what I needed.
Although it was planned in advance, you could say I am taking a celebration trip now that the 2012 Elite season is over. My girlfriend is from Dallas and is an Alabama grad so we are going to their game Saturday night against Michigan at Cowboy stadium. I am really looking forward to it. Maybe someday we will have a Bassmaster Classic in Dallas and get to see ourselves on that big jumbotron!
On the subject of college sports, I really hope the Bassmaster College Series anglers will support me in the All-Star voting now through September 10. It has been an honor representing the college guys on the Elites this year, and I would love to represent one more time this year. I can promise my sponsors will be supportive of the college guys that vote for me. Jethro Baits and Buff have already indicated they will do something special for the college teams that support me. More details on that to come.
I want to give back to my college team at the University of Kentucky as part of the All-Star voting process, too. Ten percent of any prizes I might win would be donated to them. In the years to come, I hope to do more and more for both the UK team and the college fishing organizations that were so helpful to me in my learning process. This Rookie of the Year award is for them.
Dare to fail.