2003 changed my life

Hey guys, several of you have asked me why I spent two weeks on the Delta this winter. Here's the answer: Part of it is because I really want to win this year. Classic opportunities only come along so often. You have to take full advantage of them.

And I need practice time. The guys I'm going up against are good. I need all the help I can get to stay with them. I'm not the guy who wants to launch his boat and go fishing. That doesn't work for me.

A bigger reason, though, is that I wanted to refresh my life. The Delta is really important to me. In 2003, I decided I would fish the Classic and then quit fishing professionally. I wanted out. I was having a tough go of it in my life at the time. Basically, I blamed professional fishing for my troubles.

Of course, that wasn't true. Other things were at work in my world, but I wouldn't admit it. My thinking at the time was to do the best I could in my last Classic appearance and then move on. I thought that would make things better.

And then a funny thing happened: I won. My life — really my attitude — changed overnight. I realized that most of what was good in my life was because of professional bass fishing. It was not the other way around. My negative thinking about fishing was nonsense. I realized I needed fishing to be complete. At the same time, I realized I was looking at the opportunity of a lifetime.

Before that win, I was like a lot of guys — living check to check, knowing that if I had two or three bad tournaments in a row, I was in trouble. The Classic title changed all that. Not only did I have some cash under me, but I also was able to nail down super sponsorships and be involved in product development. Like I said, it was a new world.

All of a sudden people cared about what I was doing. They wanted to know why I was throwing a certain lure with a certain rod, reel and line. Even more important, they cared. They started doing what I did. It was at that point that I knew I had to move forward.

So, my reasons for spending so much time on the Delta this winter are complex. Yes, I want to win the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. I also wanted to get my head back together. (The last half of last year was tough for me.) This is where the best part of my professional life really began. I wanted to spend time thinking about it and recapturing it.

It worked. I fished with my uncle, ran around making sure I know how to navigate the area and generally got my life in order. I'm ready for February — mind, body and soul.