It's crunch time!

With the Bassmaster Classic just around the corner, there is much to do. Last Friday I drove out to Flippin, Ark., and picked up my new Triton. They sure know how to make bass boats in Arkansas. It's absolutely beautiful. While I was there, I spent a little time out on Bull Shoals breaking the new Mercury in and exploring a few new spots for this season.

After Bull Shoals, I made a whirlwind trip down to the Sabine River and Falcon Lake in Texas. While visiting, I was privileged to spend a few days with the people at Livingston Lures. This is a first class company that our fishing industry is in dire need of. I know you hear us promoting our sponsors all the time, but this company is different. They put 110 percent into everything they do. They are not just a fishing industry company.

Livingston Lures is a huge and successful company in many different industries, and allowing those practices to infiltrate the fishing industry will be beneficial for anglers everywhere. I couldn't be more excited about what Livingston Lures has in store for us. 

The question permeating my brain last week while on the Sabine and Falcon was, "How can I help make you a better fisherman?"

I could have travelled down there and gone fishing, but that wouldn't have done much to help me, or you, when I return in a month or so. Instead, I spent my time looking around, understanding what is available to fish and exploring undiscovered areas that could have potential when we return for the Elite Series.

It's not easy to go out on any body of water and not make a cast —after all, I'm a fisherman and I want to fish. Fighting that urge to spend my time fishing instead of exploring was difficult and required discipline, especially after a dry spell without much fishing. Keep that in mind the next time you get to a new body of water. Spend some time exploring, metering and looking into what is available before making any casts. This could mean the difference between finding a winning spot and struggling to catch a limit.

The extra time graphing and looking around also gave me the opportunity to learn my new Lowrance HDS-9 with touch screen. The touch screen is unbelievable and exceeded my highest expectations. If you haven't checked one of these units out yet, give them a look at the next tradeshow or at the Bassmaster Classic.

A nice one from Falcon.

Now it's time to get all of the new products dialed in and organized. I spend a lot of time organizing my boat, probably a lot more than I need to. However, that's important to me on the water. I need to know everything is in the right place and, more importantly, that I have everything I need in the boat. This year I have no warm up events —we start with the Classic —so I'd better be prepared.

I'll spend the next few weeks breaking in my new Wright and McGill rods and reels on Lake Quivira, putting new Gamma line on everything and tinkering with some baits for the Classic. Organization, coupled with discipline, are two qualities never to be underestimated on the water.

We're still finalizing the details on the new boat wrap and my jerseys. We've got some exciting stuff to announce along those lines, and time is critical during this final push. I am not complaining though. I have one of the best jobs anyone could ever hope for, but it's not all about hooking fish and flying (or reeling) them into the boat. The fishing is the reward that is earned after the perseverance, discipline and organization.

On a final note, I want to wish the guys fishing the first Southern Open on Lake Toho this week a lot of luck. I elected to not fish the Open events this year due to my overloaded schedule. As much as I'd love to be in Florida fishing right now, I know my mile long to-do list would remain undone. After the 2,500-mile road trip last week, it's good to be home and tackling that list.

After all, it's "crunch time."

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