Headed for the Elite Series turn

In just a couple of weeks, the 2011 Bassmaster Elite Series regular season will be history. We’ll fish the Arkansas River later this week and then Wheeler Lake the week after that. I love to fish tournaments, but I have to admit that this compressed schedule can be tough.

The thing is there’s no off-season anymore ... or even much downtime for that matter. It’s fishing tournaments, working for sponsors or filming television. Every minute of your time is slotted for something. Sometimes I dream about just taking a nap.

The tournaments, especially, take up your time. It’s almost impossible to do anything besides fish during a competition week. A typical day means getting up at 4:00 in the morning, fish or practice all day, and then spend two hours working on tackle before you crash into your bed later that night. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.

It’s not that anything about it is unfair or that it’s something I didn’t ask for when I decided to become a professional bass angler. I don’t know anybody who has any level of success at anything who doesn’t work for it. That’s life in any profession. Still, it can wear you down. It may be a labor of love, but it’s still labor on some level.

After the event on Lake Murray we had a little time off, but it was only a little. We stopped to see Becky’s family on the way north and then went home to see the girls. As a practical matter, Becky had about five days at home and I had seven. That’s not a lot of time. It was precious, though. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

We all have the same issues. The guys who fished the Open on Douglas will fish three weeks in a row, just like me, and they’ll have a long drive to Little Rock, just like me. (I fished a tournament in another circuit this weekend. I did fairly well, so I have a long and brutal trip in front of me.)

This career is not quite as easy as some people think — not by a long shot. It can be physically tough and mentally stressful. The mental part’s tougher on you than the physical. At least I think so, anyway, but that could be just me. And thank goodness I'm busy. If I wasn’t, that would mean I’m struggling in my career. That would be worse, no doubt about it. I sure don’t want that.

Enough about all the hassles. I’m looking forward to the Arkansas River! It looks to be tough fishing. I can’t wait. It’s a real test of fishing skill. Besides, I have a pretty good record on rivers. I like them, and they like me.