I’m really lucky to be the father of two sons, Brevyn and Brooks. They’re cool little dudes. And it’s great because right now my oldest boy, Brev, who’s 7, is into a lot of the same things I was into when I was a kid. He rides dirt bikes. He does karate. He likes to fish.
We actually fished our first tournament together the other day. It was part of an adult-junior trail at Lake Secession, which is right down the road from our house. It’s a lake that I actually grew up fishing as a kid, and our family has a lot of history there. My dad has two bass over 10 pounds from this lake on his wall, and my personal best came from there. Back when I was a kid, my dad would pick me up from school and we’d go to Secession for a few hours before dark. It's a special place for us, and I’m proud that Brev and I got to fish our first tournament together there.
Dude, it was so wild. Who could have predicted, back when I was 10 years old fishing with Pops on that lake, that one day I’d be fishing those same stretches of bank with my son? It was kind of an awkward feeling seeing my little boy in the back of my boat, just like I was in the back of my dad’s boat all those years ago.
Brev did really good, too. I think he enjoyed the experience. I was kind of worried because we’re “late morning people” in our house. We like to get up at about 11 o’clock on weekends, but he was up at 5 in the morning, ready to go. I didn’t have to beg him to get out of bed. He picked his lures out all day, too.
Fishing was kind of tough. It was one of those days when there are just no easy fish, but he stuck with it all day. He never lost his fervor. He was casting and switching up baits, tying on different stuff all day. I was real proud of him. The tournament had a three-fish limit, and we had three for 9.30-something, which got us fifth out of 15 boats.
But where we finished doesn’t really matter. That’s not why we fished it together.
When I talk about taking Brev fishing, I think people probably assume that I want him to follow in my footsteps and pursue a career as a professional bass angler. Here’s the truth: That’s not even remotely on my mind right now. Honestly, he’s just a kid. I’m just trying to expose him to as much as I can because he has a long time to find out what he likes to do.
He really liked the tournament. He’s been talking about it a little bit since then. I’m 100% sure we’re going to do it again. But right now, I don’t think he’s anywhere close to the level of infatuation that I had with fishing at that age. I’m OK with that because there are so many things that he’s going to get from fishing other than a future career as a tournament fisherman. I’m not in this to try and win tournaments with my son or coach him into some beast of an angler anyway.
If a time comes when I see him losing sleep over what crankbait to throw and showing the same level of passion for it that I have, then we’ll talk about it. Right now, in some kind of weird way, it’s somewhat of a relief that he’s not there yet. That kind of passion for it is hard to manage – I know.
For all you parents out there in a similar place, don’t forget that taking your kids fishing isn’t just about getting your kid to the junior nationals or trying to land them some pro-staff deal. Fishing is much deeper than just tournament fishing. It’s a much bigger picture. Every kid isn’t going to be a pro tournament fisherman, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take them or they can’t still love it. Don’t push so hard. Don’t get too tied up in their success.
Brev, he’s a people person. I’ve never met a 7-year-old that’s as much of a people person as him. His favorite part about tournaments is meeting up with other kids around the boats in the morning and talking to people at weigh-in. You can tell that’s his thing. I could see him working in the fishing industry, not as a bass pro, but doing something else just because it’s such a people-oriented industry.
Or, you know what? He might not. We’ll see.
My parents didn’t pressure me into tournament fishing. I had the passion on my own, to the point that nothing could stop me, and I didn’t need them to push me. So I’m not pushing Brev.
I’m just taking him fishing. I’m making memories. I’m getting ready for our next tournament together, because no matter how it all works out, the days we spend together fishing are special days for us. He’ll remember our first tournament, just like I remember fishing that lake with Pops. And that’s what really matters.