Having a dream is a great thing.
Chasing that dream relentlessly is an even better thing.
But not knowing what to do with it when you finally catch it can be a crushing experience.
Just ask any dog that’s ever managed to finally run down a car he chased from his front yard to his neighborhood street corner every morning and afternoon.
Actually, most of those dogs are no longer with us.
So instead, ask any aspiring pro fisherman who chased the dream and managed to catch hold of it a little too soon in life.
History is littered with anglers who just knew the Bassmaster Elite Series was the life for them. They had three good performances in Bassmaster Opens, and they were convinced they had what it took to make it as pros.
They never thought much about securing sponsors from big-name companies who’ve basically never heard of them – companies who already employ the biggest names in the sport.
They never thought about driving 1,500 miles from home, just to get to a lake they’d never seen before – and stopping to pay for gas a dozen times along the way.
They never thought about where they’d sleep once they got to the tournament venues – a hotel room or a campground if they were lucky, the front seat of their trucks if they weren’t.
All they could think about was catching fish – and in the beginning, that’s what they should have been thinking about.
But if you talked to those guys now, I’d wager they’ll tell you need to start thinking about all of the of the other stuff long before they did.
I’ve fished a couple of times lately with Alabama angler David Kilgore. He’s a two-time qualifier for the Bassmaster Classic through the Opens, and he’s won more than $230,000 on the B.A.S.S. circuit.
More impressively, he’s qualified three times for the Elite Series and turned down the invitation each time.
He said he’s happy just living a normal life and being the everyday Joe with a chance to win an Open and make the Classic. The competitive drive still burns in him – it’s killing him that he didn’t win an Open in 2016 and won’t be taking part in the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods this month in Houston.
But he’s realistic about the whole thing.
When it came time to make a decision about fishing the Elite Series, he asked himself some important questions?
Will I really be happy spending eight months a year on the road?
Will I really be happy saying goodbye to my family as much as I say hello?
Will fishing really still be fun if it’s the one thing I’m counting on to pay all the bills?
Obviously, the answer to at least one of those questions was “no,” so he’s still satisfied with being one of the biggest sticks on the Opens circuit. He finished sixth in the first Southern Open of the year on Florida’s Harris Chain of Lakes in January and earned more than $10,000.
Now he’d like some of these young, starry-eyed anglers to ask themselves the same questions he asked himself.
He doesn’t want to discourage anyone from dreaming – and he’s quick to point out that plenty of anglers have chased the dream and lived it to the fullest, becoming successful pros.
Like me, he just wishes some anglers would redefine the term “making it.”
Having three good performances in the Opens is outstanding. But do you know how many Minor League pitchers have thrown no-hitters in baseball without ever winning a game in the Majors?
It happens all the time.
Don’t let one good tournament or one good three-event season give you delusions of grandeur.
Don’t be ashamed to say, “Yeah, I qualified this year, but I still don’t think I’m ready.”
Chase your dreams, but run along beside that car a few times before you finally grab hold of the bumper.