I can't tell you how excited I am to have a blog. I'd like to start by thanking for providing me space on the world's best fishing website. A special thanks to my friend Ken Duke at B.A.S.S. for the title of the blog, "The Natural."

I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts, tips, tricks and insights with B.A.S.S. fans around the world. I'm particular about my fishing in ways I don't think many of my competitors are. I'm not taking anything away from them when I say that, either. They're all incredible anglers. I just have my own ways of doing things, like they have theirs'. I want to share that information with you because I think it'll help you catch more fish.

I'm also looking forward to sharing some of my thoughts about what's going on in my life and what it's like to be a touring professional angler. You may already have an idea of what it's like, and many of you may have the goal of competing in the Elite Series. I'll tell you about it.

At the bottom of each one of my blogs there's a place to enter your comments and questions. I hope you'll do that. I'll be checking to see what you're saying. I want to keep this blog working for both of us — you and me.

Now let's blog!

Ragnar Relay Preparation 

For months now, I've been training for the Ragnar Relay, which I'll be running in January. It feels great to be getting into the best shape of my life. Since I've never run so much, I'm encountering lots of nagging injuries. One day it's a foot, the next a leg muscle, and on and on. I've become good friends with the ice bag.

In the Ragnar Relay a team of 12 runners will be running from Miami to Key West, Fla. I will be running 21.1 miles of the 199 total miles. Starting next week I'll be looking for people to sponsor my run in an effort to raise money for the Tackle the Storm Foundation.

The 2012 Season 

It's never too early to start talking about the 2012 Elite Series Season. This year will be the first season that my family doesn't travel with me. Jordan and Spencer (my kids) have started regular school here in Alabama. They were accepted into one of the best schools in the country, and Lesley (my wife) and I decided it was time. Lesley has done an amazing job homeschooling them while on the road, and that shows with their acceptance into such a great school.

I have conflicting feelings about how traveling on my own will affect my performance on tour. On the good side, it's going to push my focus more to fishing since I won't have them there with me each night. On the not-so-good side, I'm going to miss them, which will make the long road trips seem even longer. I'm glad B.A.S.S. has spread the schedule out because it means more time at home, and they'll be able to travel with me during the summer months.

Back to fishing, the schedule looks great to me, but I would have liked to see a tournament or two closer to home. I'll hope for that in the 2013 season — as well as for a few in the West again.

I just got back from a trip to Douglas Lake, which is event number four in early May. That event could end up being a real shootout. I wouldn't be surprised if it took 100 pounds to win it. I had over 28 pounds in about seven hours. The bite will get tougher when you put 100 of the best anglers in the world on the lake, but I'll also have more time on the water to dial them in better.

The other thing about the schedule that I really like is the mystery lake idea. Although, it's completely legal prior to the off-limits period, I rarely get local information for the lakes we're going to fish. I know that puts me at a big disadvantage, but it's how I like to do things. For that reason, if they can find a way to truly keep it a mystery, I like my chances.

Let's wrap it up 

If you ask anyone who knows me, I like to talk. I can go on and on, but it's time to take a break. Next week, I'll offer some insight into the 2012 Bassmaster Classic, the Classic in general, a winter fishing tip and more.

Thanks for reading!

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