Missing a Bassmaster Classic after 24 appearances hurts.
It hurts bad.
And it should.
That’s one of the valuable aspects of this great event and our sport. There are no entitlements. If you’re going to qualify for a Classic through the Elite Series, you have to earn it.
And this year, I didn’t.
Perhaps that’s what hurts most. I’m a fierce competitor, and to finish the season as poorly as I did is extremely disappointing.
It was a tough and challenging schedule, yet it shows what an amazing job that guys like Greg Hackney, Aaron Martens, Todd Faircloth, Jacob Powroznik, Keith Combs and Mark Davis have done. They’re still in the hunt for a Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year title going into next month’s championship at Escanaba, and four of those guys (Hackney, Faircloth, Combs and Davis) are Strike King teammates of mine. I will be watching to see how the drama unfolds for those trying to win the title and hoping to nail down a Bassmaster Classic berth on Lake Hartwell, S.C., next February.
I have no excuses for me not being a part of it. I had some of the worst finishes in events that I’ve ever had. When your performance suffers the way mine did this year, you pay the price.
Of course, I can look back at multiple instances and wish I had done things differently. I had some high points in my season, like Toledo Bend (19th), Table Rock (5th) and BASSfest in Chattanooga (2nd), the latter of which didn’t count in the standings, but also some bad events. Two that shocked me were the St. Johns River (70th) and Lake Dardanelle (71st) events.
Historically, I’ve done well at both places, but I took too stubborn of approach this year and relied too much on past experiences. The more experience you have, the easier it is to become hard-headed.
Knowledge of a lake is a double-edge sword; it can be a helpful at times, but those past experiences also can come back to haunt you.
And they did.
I will definitely be at the 2015 Bassmaster Classic to support B.A.S.S., my sponsors and my fans. I feel privileged to make a living at something I love to do. I’ve had a long career on the Bassmaster trail – with a lot of highlights – and wouldn’t think of missing the Lake Hartwell event.
As much as it hurts not being a part of it, I’ve always believed you can turn a negative into a positive and that’s what I plan to do next year. I will spend the offseason contemplating this year’s on-the-water decisions and learn from them. I will pay extra attention to preparing my equipment and getting my mind and body ready for the physical grind.
I’m always excited at the beginning of a new season but after you’ve had a year like I’ve had this year, you can bet I am really looking forward to next season.
I’ve always prepared for tournaments with my own system, trying to do things my own way and it’s paid off throughout my career. Just because I had a bad season doesn’t mean I have to revamp everything, but I do need to look at a few things differently.
I’ve always appreciated all the support from my fans and this year it has meant even more than ever. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed anyone by not competing up to the standards I’ve set for myself.
I try to work hard, be a good person and do as good of a job I can for my sponsors, media, and fans. Both Sherry and I take this profession very seriously; we may not be perfect, but our intentions have always been to do the right thing.
Thanks again for all the support. As we look forward to next year, I can assure you we’ll put this behind us and carry a positive attitude into 2015.
After all, it’s all about the attitude!