Getting ready for the grind

I love living in Mississippi, but one of the things I like the most — hunting — has me a little behind in my preparation for the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series. Don’t worry, I’ll get caught up in time, but our deer season doesn’t close until Jan. 31, so I’m still in hunting mode for a little longer.

Very soon, I’ll get back into the rhythm of tournament fishing and tackle prep. One thing that really helps me do that is going and prefishing. I didn’t go to the St. Johns, the site of our first Elite event, before it went off limits because I’ve been there before. I believe that when we get there in early February, the fish will be spawning. If I had prefished there, it would probably be a very different scenario during the tournament.

Now, I did practice on Lake Lanier. I broke in my new boat and made sure everything runs like it should. I did a lot of idling and graphing and got in a couple hours of fishing each day.

I caught some fish, but honestly, this was more about familiarizing myself with the lake. Kind of like my thoughts on the St. Johns, it’s hard to focus on the Lanier tournament because when I went, the conditions and seasonal timing were not what we’ll face when we fish there the second week of February.

I was more concerned with finding out what the water temperature was in the bottom end of the lake and up the rivers. This gives me some insight on approximately where the fish might be in their staging when we get back for the tournament.

As far as getting myself physically ready for the grind of a new tournament season, I don’t have a lot to do there. My wife and I stay pretty active, with regular exercise. We have an elliptical in our home and as soon as it warms up a little, I’ll start running outside.

We try to eat well, and we’ll stay away from the carbs — especially after the holiday season when you tend to eat so much of the unhealthy stuff. One thing that’s helping us maintain a good diet is a freezer full of fish. I made a trip to Venice, La., back in the fall and came home with a mess of redfish.

My favorite preparation method is “on the half shell” — a redfish fillet skin down on the grill for about 20 minutes. We do this once or twice a week, and it’s an easy way to prepare a healthy meal.

I’ll miss those dinners once I start traveling, but I’m going to miss being home a lot more this year because I’ll be leaving my wife with our baby girl, Millie James. I know my wife will have everything well under control, but I’m sure I’ll spend a lot of time thinking about them both.

So much can happen in a couple weeks of a baby’s first year, and I don’t want to miss any of it. My wife and I have already made plans to FaceTime every night so I can see them both.

The background photo on my phone is a picture of my wife and baby, but I’ll still want to see them and talk to them as often as possible on the road. I’m sure that being away will be tougher this year, but it’s also going to give me even greater motivation than I already had.

I’m definitely looking forward to getting this season kicked off, and I’m sure I’ll be excited to launch my boat every day of each tournament. But I’ll be a little more excited to get back to my room each night and see my little girl.