My first two years here, I was lucky to have some great people helping me out, including Gary Boyd from California and Fred Roumbanis and his family, who kindly took me into their home. Fred sped up my learning curve on some of the techniques that I needed to know.
I have been very fortunate to have some great sponsors over my career in Australia, and Skeeter was the first company in the States to continue their support and help me get into a boat motor package! In 2013 and continuing into this year, Hobie Fishing, Millerods, Shimano, Skeeter/Yamaha, Bassman Spinnerbaits, Hydrowave, Amphibia, Fishing Monthly and B.A.S.S. Australia Nation have all gotten behind me to help get me through and compete in all nine Bassmaster Open events this year.
My first two years were totally spent traveling from one side of the country to the other, learning the lakes in my Skeeter and fishing as a co-angler in as many events as I could – and a few as a pro just to gain as much all-round experience as possible. My first eight months were spent in the west fishing lakes like Havasu, Lake Pyramid, Lake Mead and the Delta, but I made the move east after seeing all the Bassmaster events were this side of the country.
Then in 2012, I entered the Central and Northern Opens as a pro. I had an amazing year with plenty of Top 20 finishes and a few Top 12 near misses with a 13th, a 14th and a 15th placing. My lifetime dream of making the Elites had all come down to my final event of the season at Fort Gibson in Oklahoma. I was fifth in Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Opens points and knew I needed a Top 30 to make it happen. I finished the event in 31st, which put me one point behind James Elam, and I missed making the Elites by that one spot.
It was a tough pill to swallow, but I regrouped, and with the support from my sponsors, family, friends and supporters, I came back in 2013. I had a year of highs and lows. I started well, but then I put a string of bad finishes together and just couldn’t get anything happening. Giving up and going home seemed like the only option as my funds had run to almost zero, but I stuck it out and didn’t give up for my final event at Ross Barnett in Mississippi where I had my best-ever finish and made my first Top 12 cut. It was an amazing feeling, by far the greatest week of my life, and something I will never forget! This gave me the boost I needed before heading back home to Australia and working on making it happen in 2014.
Now I’m back again for my fourth year in the States and I’m currently getting my truck and boat ready for Florida. I have entered all nine Bassmaster Opens, and hopefully I can kick the year off with a good result. I have only fished Florida once on the Harris Chain of Lakes, but I learnt a lot while I was down there and I’m feeling really excited about getting on the water.
My ultimate goal is to promote the sport of bass fishing – and Australia – in a good light, to get more people involved in fishing and encourage catch and release techniques. I want to encourage people to get out there, follow their passion and chase their dreams, no matter how hard they may seem. If you want it bad enough, you can get it!
Whatever it takes!