I’m excited to say that I’ve finally jumped into producing a regular column for the Bassmaster website. I will have something posted regularlly that will discuss my time on the water, a fishing tip or technique, or an inside look at what life on the road is like as a pro angler. I’m looking forward to this, and I hope you enjoy it!
With this being my first installment, I wanted to spend some time talking about a very important part of the year in a professional angler’s life. The fall through Christmas is my downtime, and it’s something that is very valuable for my family and me. It’s the time when I recharge my batteries, spend time with my wife and children and build up those relationships.
It’s important that I spend as much time as possible investing in their lives before I have to hit the road for the new season. You may, or may not, be surprised at how quickly the “Honey-Do List” grows when you’re on the road for so long. But, they support me without question, and the sacrifice they make doesn’t get recognized enough.
More often than not, when I stand onstage and weigh my fish you’ll hear me say how thankful I am for my family and the support they provide. You’ll hear the same gratitude from most of the other anglers competing in the Bassmaster Elite Series, as well. But, don’t take it as a cliché, because it’s the truth. I really believe that the best anglers on tour have a tremendous family support system at home, and that’s a key to their success.
As a family man, I mean it when I say: “I really couldn’t do this without them.”
I love spending time with my boys preparing for deer season, building blinds and everything that goes into hunting whitetails — they really seem to enjoy doing that with me, which makes it even better. I love going to baseball and soccer games; my daughter is involved in dance, and being there to support them is really what I love to do most during this part of the year.
As my children grow, the time away gets harder. When they were young, it was easy to bring them along on the road, but now with school, sports and life happening, I’ve missed some important events in their lives. Unlike a regular 9-to-5, I can’t put in extra hours during the week to get off early on Friday, or take a vacation day so I can make a baseball game.
My son won an all-star baseball game, and he was upset that Daddy wasn’t there to celebrate with him. That was one of the most difficult thing’s I’ve had to endure as professional angler and a father. But, it’s like that for a lot of folks out there — I know I’m not alone in that. It is my reality, and that’s an example of the kind of sacrifices we do make.
Don’t get me wrong, that is far from complaining! I’m very grateful for the countless blessings in my life. I just want to point out that regardless of your path in this life, sacrifices have to be made in order to keep the dream alive. Sacrifices on my end, and especially the sacrifices on my family’s end are instrumental, and I owe them for that.
I am very selfish with my family time right now, and I’m not sorry about that. It's important for me to invest in my home life now, so that when the new season begins and I’m on the road a lot, there’s no question that my priorities are based on those who mean the most to me.
This time is also critical for me personally. I need to rest up and mentally prepare for the Classic and the new Elite Series season ahead. Gear needs organized, boat needs rigged, maps need studied and so much more. But, like I’ve already said, a big part of that preparation is a time investment with my wife and children.
After Christmas and the first of the year, I’ll begin prepping for the upcoming season. And, I’m excited for that as well. But, with my downtime growing short as the holidays are upon us, I’ve got to get back to what’s really important — my family.
During this Christmas season, be sure to spend some quality time with those who mean the most to you. That is a rechargeable investment that’s always worth making.