Getting ready for the tour

As many of you know, I try to take advantage of my downtime. To me, that's very important. I spend time with my family, enjoy the holidays and do a lot of hunting. The late duck season just ended up here. Both boys got ducks this year. How's that for a successful year in the outdoors with your kids?

I don't view downtime as a luxury. It's very much a necessity, for me at least. I need to get away from competitive fishing for a while every year, let my head settle down and then get back into tournament mode. It keeps me fresh.

My downtime is just about over, however. It's time to get back to work. They're rigging my new boat this week. It should be ready shortly. In the meantime, I'll be spending my time sorting tackle, ordering lures and whatever else I need and planning out this year's Elite Series. As you know, I'm a stickler for preparation.

It's especially important to get a jump on things this year because once we leave Lay Lake after the Classic we go directly to California for two tournaments. My boat and truck won't be home until after that. Everything needs to be ready to go.

My boat inventory is the most important. Everything I'll need for the first few tournaments will be in my boat well before I leave home for the Classic. The less time I spend worrying if I have the right stuff with me, the more time I can spend worrying about how to catch bass, which is what I get paid to do.

Packing starts with my Strike King baits. We have a lot of new colors and new models out this year, so I want to make sure I have everything I think I'll need. I do that by thinking about each tournament venue and then deciding what I'll likely need.

I do the same thing with my line, rods, reels and maps — basically everything. I want my inventory complete — no surprises. Everything needs to be in tip-top shape when I get ready to practice or compete.

This year I'll be changing out a lot of my boxes. Plano has some really neat new stuff, so a lot of my old 3700s will be retired and replaced with the newest and the best. If you haven't seen some of what they have to offer this year, check them out on the Web. You'll be impressed.

Next week we'll talk about Lay Lake. I'll give you a short description of the water and tell you why I think this will be one of the best Classics. Along with that, just for good measure, I'll give you my pick for the angler to watch.

Remember, it's all about the attitude.

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