Old dog, new tricks

“We lose our way…”

Dateline: Lost & Found

Tell me.

Do you coast?

You got yerself a neutral shift, huh.

A mind full of lazy.

Fess up, it’s okay, all of us at sometime or another in our careers, in our lives, take the easy way, we get so that we are good at what we do, and we reach over and flip on the auto-pilot.

And we get by.

We don’t get ahead.

We don’t fall back.

We stay afloat.

And life,

is colored,


We accept, good.

Good, becomes enough.

Good, becomes safe.

“How you doing?”

“I’m good.”

Really. Are you. Vanilla, is that you.

For a period of time in my life, I was Vanilla. Coasting. Had a six-figure contract, Saturdays on the Lawn Boy, a grocery store card on my key ring, three-year car leases, butt prints in a La-Z-Boy.

With little effort, I was good enough to maintain all that, even got my yearly 3.2% raise.

I was good at what I did,

and it,


Good, is bad.

“db, after 28 years, it just became a job…”

We are sitting on a log bench outside of the Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri; storm clouds are in the air, as are butterflies and hawks.

Behind us lying in a field, a bunch of ladies doing yoga, all around us a bunch of anglers lying to each other about their practice here on Table Rock Lake.

“…and I lost my drive, lost the drive I had when I was young.”

“How old are you.”

Then the bear of a man turns to look at me,

and as he talks, this is what I scribble down on my notepad,

50 years old,

Mark Davis.

“…we get back up again…”

...is...back.I’m good friends with Mark and his wife, Tilly, and it is only because of that, that I can ask him this exact question, “So, what’s up, when did you get good.”

Let me explain.

If you are new to this sport, you know that over the past several years, Mark Davis hasn’t been on your radar, and you may be thinking that the dude is just having a lucky streak, and if you are thinking that,

you would be wrong.

Real wrong.

Dig this, Mark Davis has fished in 246 B.A.S.S. tournaments, and in those 246 tournaments he has placed in the money 167 times. 

Quick to your calculator app and you will see that Mark, against and amongst the best tournament anglers on earth is batting…


For you non baseball types…67% of the time, Mark is in the money.

Dude has won $1,639,202.30 or almost $60-grand a year since he started way back when he was 21 years old.

And if you are surprised to see him holding up big fish on stage…don’t be…in his career, he has managed to catch and bag a little over 3.6 TONS of bass fishies.

Then there’s this, in 1995 Mark won BOTH the Bassmaster Classic and the Angler of the Year race (he’s been AOY 3 times in his career); the only other angler to do that is…KVD.

A career of five 1st place finishes, five 2nds, eight 3rds…Top 10 FORTY-NINE times, Top 20…88 times.

And for all you youngins out there not very impressed yet, the dude sitting next to me on the bench even has two video games named after his ownself: Mark Davis Pro Bass Challenge & Mark Davis The Fishing Master.

So what went wrong.

“I got complacent, db. I knew what it took to be good, to get a paycheck, and that’s all the effort I put into it. You get comfortable.”

Comfortable would be a 4-letter word in my book except it actually has 10 letters, so for the sake of argument let’s just say it’s a 10-letter, 4-letter word.

Great, don’t do comfortable. Great is anything but comfortable, and for a while, Mark gave up great.

“I was fine with just doing the minimum. I was tired of the grind; it takes a whole lot of work out here to be great – all the prep, all the practice, all the time all that takes. You know, I just got plain out set in my ways.”

In my career, I have interviewed dozens of champions in sport, and I have asked this one question over and over: “What factor led to your championship here?”

And, trust me, none of them ever answered: “Well, db, I think looking back, being set in my ways lead to this championship.”

Nope, no one ever told me that.

So what changed in Mark, what thing made him not be set in his ways,

ah, that would actually be

two things.

“…It's never too late to get back up again…”

Mark leaving weigh-in with sons Hunter and Fisher aboard.“My boys.”

My buddy Mark has been married for the past 26 years to a great lady named Tilly.

Mark doesn’t know this, but when I wanted to know what was up with Mark, why the turn around, I first asked Tilly.

Tilly: “Hunter & Fisher.”

That’s 12-year-old Hunter Davis, and his twin brother Fisher Davis.

Mark: “My older son, James, is 22; he experienced my Bassmaster Classic win, the Angler of the Year wins. He experienced all the great stuff...”

Then the bear of a man, looked past me for a minute, scrunched his nose and puffed up his lip that turned into a tooth-filled smile, “…but my boys, my twin boys, they’ve not experienced any of that…db…they’re my motivation…I’m driven to do it once again for them.”


Tilly and the boys travel with Mark. At the last event, I snapped this shot of Mark in his boat leaving the weigh-in…and sitting next to him in the boat as he idled out…

…Hunter and Fisher.

“I want to win it for them. Doing the minimum just to be good, you do that and great things don’t happen.”

With that I patted Mark on the leg and put the pen and pad away, stood up and we both headed to the Elite anglers registration meeting. As Mark turned to go one way and me another, this is the last thing he said to me:

“db, you know that old saying, ‘You can’t teach old dogs new tricks,’ well that ain’t so,” and then with a smile he disappeared behind a door made of logs.

And as I walked down the hall by myself,

I too smiled,

and whispered,

“Yep Mark,

I know.”


“…one day you will shine again.”

“Get Back Up”