Festive and grateful

I should be starting to focus on the Bassmaster Classic since it's less than two months away. But right now, the holidays take priority. I've been thinking about it, but not in the serious context that I will once we get past the holidays.

For now, I'm enjoying the time at home with family, attending Christmas parties and visiting with longtime friends. This is a special time of year for me since I don't have as many business obligations and can lead a normal life at home. Being a pro fisherman puts a lot of demands on your time. With tournaments, public appearances, media and sponsor events, I'm gone a minimum of 250 days a year. I savor this time when I get to stay home for two or three weeks in a row, sleep in my own bed and can participate in family get-togethers.

Sherry is very festive this time of year, and it's carried over to Jackson and Nicholas. But hey, it's Christmas; how can you not be festive? We have big families that are growing, and there are a lot of get-togethers. And, since the boys aren't in school, we can kick back, not worry about homework and do fun things together. But the holidays also are a time to think about those less fortunate as well as our servicemen and women stationed overseas.

We set aside some time during the holidays to help with charitable causes, including sponsoring a family needing extra help and ringing bells at business establishments for the Salvation Army. Our boys participate and they have seen how rewarding it is to help out. The economy has taken its toll on thousands of Americans and businesses, yet so many are willing to give their time and money to help out. It really solidifies one's pride in Americans and demonstrates one of the many reasons why this is a great country. Our part is small, yet it's truly a humbling experience. When I'm not involved with family or holiday activities, I've been working with Strike King to refine some new baits we'll be coming out with over the next year or so. Lure designers sent me some prototypes to test, but this has been one of the coldest Decembers we've had in Michigan for awhile. I haven't been able to test them in my pond because it's frozen tight. However, they look great and I can't wait to put them in water to see how they respond. Strike King pro staffers in warmer climates are testing them, and early reviews are good.

You can bet I'll find some open water somewhere during my break. That's one thing about Strike King — no lure goes public until we're totally convinced it's ready to perform and meets our high standards. In the meantime, here's wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!