It will probably take me a few months to start writing 2018 on my checks, notes and other correspondence, but one thing I can say is that right out of the gate, I’m ready for my second Bassmaster Elite Series season.
Part of that starts with the fact that I feel well rested. I didn’t do too much on New Year' Day besides take it easy and enjoy a lazy day with my wife. We had an ice storm in Waco, so it wasn’t a good day to be driving anyway.
We had been traveling for two straight weeks with family and got home the morning of the 31st. We just laid low and recovered from the holiday travel and watched the ball drop.
We enjoyed a lot of football and unhealthy foods — kind of a continuation of Christmas season. I think I’m like most people — the diet starts after New Year’s Day.
In all seriousness, this downtime is important. For the first time all year, I’ve went three weeks without making a cast. I’m not saying that’s ever a good thing because you want to spend as much time on the water as possible. But it was nice to get away, be with family and get my mind off of fishing.
It was a nice period of mental clearing because Jan. 2, I was in my barn all day prepping my boat and getting everything fine-tuned. Really, this week starts game day for the 2018 season. The prep work is just as important as the actual game day, and it’s always nice to come off a relaxing week or two prior to that.
This time off has also allowed me to focus on my resolutions for 2018, and I have three important ones regarding my second Elite Series season.
Fish patiently: I’m going to trust my gut and not worry about what others are doing. I can’t say that I always did that last year, and it came back to bite me.
For example, on Toledo Bend, I had a decent Day 1 and placed inside the Top 50. But on Day 2, when I ran my pattern and it didn’t pan out, I hit the panic button. Most anglers know that 99 percent of the time when you hit the panic button, good things are not ahead.
I let myself get spun out and went from placing in the 40s to the 100s. Never again, though.
Qualify for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic: I’ll be working the Classic this year for my sponsors and, while this is a also an important part of the business, everyone will tell you that it’s the price for not qualifying. I’ll do my best to serve my sponsors and enjoy interacting with fans, but every bit of me will wish I was crossing that weigh-in stage.
Enjoy every moment: Plain and simple, I got too busy calculating points last year to fully appreciate how blessed I am to be fishing the Elites. I’m living the dream of many other great anglers, so I’m going to soak it all up this year.
There are certain things that do take away from the sport, but there are things that drive me. I have to say that the competition drives me really hard. Being so competitive, you rely a lot on your results for your happiness. The downside is that one bad event can turn you in the wrong direction.
I feel like that happened to me early in the season; I had one bad finish and that made me try to become an angler I wasn’t. What I should have done — what I will do this season — is be the angler that I am. I’ll fish within my comfort zone and focus on my strengths.
I don’t want to spend another year staring at a points sheet. I did that too much last year, so whether I’m in the top five or the bottom five, I’m going to try to not look at it.
I can only influence the day that’s in front of me, so I’ll give each one 100 percent of my focus.