We're like a band of gypsies following the Elite trail

Like a band of gypsies seeking riches, we load our vehicles, pack our equipment and travel once again. We study lines, not on our palms, but on lake maps as we try to determine not only our future, but where our riches lie.

We now have but two tournaments left in this Elite season to accomplish our goals. I am now on my way to the Arkansas River. I first have to stop at the Skeeter owners' tournament in Alb, Texas. It's one of the best events I do all year, and I'm looking forward to it.

As for the Arkansas River, it has its ups and downs ... literally. As of this writing, we're still scheduled to go to Little Rock. They've been experiencing flooding and there have been small craft warnings on the river.

The last we were told, the river was dropping and everything should be ready for us, but that was before the last set of storms. I just hope I don't end up on some yellow brick road, dodging flying monkeys, clicking my heels together, saying “There’s no place like home!”

No matter what sport you participate in, there is always a support team to keep you going. Bass fishing is no different. We all have sponsors which help not only monetarily but also with equipment and, when needed, repairs. I'm very fortunate to have some of the best. These are like our pit crews keeping us in the race. Skeeter and Yamaha have been there to keep me on the water.

My other sponsors are Two Way Boat Alarms, Minn Kota/Hummingbird, Power Pole, Lew’s, Zoom, Gamma Line, VMC Hooks, and Bass Pro Shops. All of my sponsors have been there when I needed them and have supported not only me, but our entire sport. Next time you're in need of equipment, please consider these companies.

As I said, we all get support from our sponsors, but there is a group that gives us all even more support and are almost never mentioned. That group is our families. While I was at Lake Murray I became a grandfather — again — to a beautiful little girl. I also witnessed the sweeter side of Mike Iaconelli before takeoff the third day at Murray.

Just before we left, Mike’s wife came down to give him a good luck kiss. As they kissed I watched “Never Give Up” Mike stroke his wife’s arm with true love and tenderness.

We are gone for months at a time and many of our wives are left at home to take care of the kids and all of the household chores. I've always heard that behind every good man is a good woman, and fishermen are no different. If you look at the successful anglers, they all have the support of their wives and families.

I've had the opportunity to talk with many anglers and they universally talk about the time they are missing with their families. At the Power-Pole crawfish boil at Toledo Bend, I sat across from Bobby Lane. As we went through pounds of crawfish, he didn’t talk about fishing, but spoke of his family, and how much he missed them.

Bernie Schultz was sitting next to us, and he was talking about a ball game one of his sons was in and how he wished he was there. Jeff Connella had made it to the third day, which meant he was fishing the next morning and he was talking about his son’s tee ball game and how he was going to be at the game even if he had to drive all night. And as I sat there enjoying great food, music, and friends, I was missing Linda, my wife.

While we all love our sport, we love our families more. Leaving home is always bittersweet. So to all the wives — especially Linda — I/we love you and we will be home soon.

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