BONUS QUESTION: You've competed in 16 Bassmaster Classics now and have been fishing professionally for 17 years. How has your strategy for competing changed over the years?
Well, it's changed and it hasn't. It hasn't changed in the way I get ready for a tournament or prepare my strategy. My preparation has literally been the same since the early '90s when I was in my first club, the Top Rod Bassmasters. I research at home, come up with a game plan, come up with a backup game plan and prepare as much off the water as possible.
What's different is my mindset. Early on, I wanted to get established. I was thinking about longevity, consistency, qualifying for the next level, earning points. But as you mature, and you've proved you can win and you have more confidence, your desire to go for it more and take more chances increases. I can fail more easily now, which is great because it puts me in position to win.
Also, I've matured as a person. In the late '90s or early 2000s, if I lost a fish or something bad happened, I was so devastated that I couldn't get my head around it. I've become better at dealing with bad moments and moving on. At the Delaware River tournament, I only had two fish and broke off my third on that first day. Had that happened 10 years ago, I would have been done. But at the Delaware, I was still mad, but I realized the fish were starting to bite elsewhere, and I was able to put it behind me quicker.