One last look back at the Classic

Before this year’s season starts, I want to take one last look back at the Classic. There are some things I want to say, things I think matter. Some are pretty but others not so much so. Nevertheless, they need to be part of my column. After today, we’ll not talk about them again. (OK, that might be an exaggeration. But we won’t talk about them in the same way.)

To begin with, let me tell you that I was really disappointed when I didn’t make the cut on Saturday afternoon. It went right to the bone, and I know it showed. It’s bad enough to not be in the top half after two days but it was even worse because I was on the Red River. That’s a venue that’s always been good to me. I expected better from myself.

My disappointment was with me. I want that to be clear. I know what happened and I think I know why it happened. Most importantly I know who’s to blame — me. I don’t have to look any farther than the mirror to see who’s to blame.

As bad as it was, however, there were two sides to the experience. I didn’t fish on Sunday. That was bad. I didn’t fish on Sunday. That was good.

Like most of the guys who missed the cut, I spent Sunday at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by Dick’s Sporting Goods. In my case, I was at my booth. I was privileged to meet some really nice people and talk fishing with some of my fans. That’s always a good thing. Most importantly, I met people who had real issues.

Some of them had lost loved ones, others had serious job problems and at least one couple had lost a child at a young age. As the day went along I realized how fortunate I am. That’s not something I’m just saying to be nice. It’s something I really realized deep down inside. Who am I to complain because I had a tough tournament? In the grand scheme of things, that’s not really all that bad. A bad tournament is fixable.

I hate to admit it but being humbled on Saturday in a big tournament like the Bassmaster Classic gave me the opportunity to see how good I really have it. I’ve had as much success as any man could ever ask for, personal and professional. For that I’ll be forever thankful.

I can’t tell you that I’ll be calm and philosophical the next time I miss a cut or fish poorly. You know, and I know, that’s not likely to happen. The fire and the passion is what makes me competitive. It’s what makes me who I am. I wouldn’t lose it if I could. But I will try, once the adrenalin rush is over, to put things into perspective.

Now that that’s off my chest, it’s time to head toward Florida. There’s a big tournament on the St. Johns River next week, you know. I need to be ready.

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