After a week of hanging out at home, spending a little time in the woods, getting ready for winter and taking the kids trick or treating, I'm back on the road. I flew to Las Vegas Monday for the SEMA Show to work with my vehicle sponsor, Toyota Trucks, who is rolling out a special exhibit there.
It's funny how anglers can get so geeked up about an upcoming fishing trip that we play it out in our minds as to how we're going to catch them. When I'm headed out on a fun fishing trip to a place I haven't been for awhile, I have an idea of how I think — and hope — I'm going to catch them. But it doesn't always work out that way.
This is a special week for me. It's time to go smallmouth fishing in northern Michigan. I feel sorry for my bass fishing buddies who live in the South and don't get to experience what we enjoy every fall. Let me put it in perspective: Michigan's fall smallmouth fishing is like the first day of deer season, the opening of the NFL and your birthday all wrapped in one. It's that extraordinary.
Now they're even. Last year, Nicholas shot his first deer with a gun before Jackson. Both boys got deer during gun season, but Nicholas was first. Well, last weekend, Jackson shot his first buck with a bow before Nicholas. Don't get me wrong. We don't promote competition between the boys, but there's always a little razzing and one-upmanship that goes on between brothers, especially 13-year-old twins.
I began the 21-hour journey home on Monday after a three-and-half week tour around the country doing promotions, working with media and competing in the Toyota Texas Bass Classic held last weekend on Lake Conroe.
It's vitally important to expand on that fishing style and become more versatile if you want to improve as an angler, but that can be tough to do. How do you go about learning new techniques and new baits?
Last week's travel took me to a Texas ranch outside of Dallas where I met with Strike King personnel and media people for a few days of product testing, story interviews, photo sessions and some great bass fishing. Other pros in our group were Greg Hackney, my nephew Jonathon VanDam, Mark Menendez, James Niggemeyer and Mark Davis.
Well, so much for the "slow" offseason. It's time for me to get back to work with my other duties as a full-time bass pro. I rose before daylight one day last week, waited to see the kids off to school, jumped into my Toyota Tundra and began my three and a half week journey to Missouri and Texas.
As much as I love spring fishing, nothing compares to fishing the northern Michigan lakes during the fall. It is truly trophy time for big smallies! Two weeks ago, our family joined Mark Zona's for a vacation in the Traverse City area. We spent most of the time just kicking back and spending time with the kids.
Did our family have a good time last Monday evening! Nicholas, Jackson and my nephew Steve fished a local tournament here with my old bass club. It's a typical Monday night event, about 3 1/2 hours long with most of the club members qualifying as regulars.