Back when I was a little kid, I watched the B.A.S.S. anglers on TV sometimes when I could. Then I got a little older and was usually out fishing with my dad when they were on the TV. I was lucky that way — my dad was an outdoorsman, and he took me along. It made a big difference in my life.
We didn’t talk much about B.A.S.S. or professional bass fishing but it was always there, and so was my dream of earning a blue trophy. It was what I wanted out of life at the time. I’m older now, and I know there are other things that matter, things like faith, family and health. And even though I won other trophies and had my success as a professional bass angler I never lost my want for that blue trophy.
I got it Saturday. It was a good day.
There’s no way I can say I saw this coming, but I can say that I was confident I could have a good event. I forget exactly where I was after the first day. I think it was down in the 40s, maybe 43. Most of the time that means you’re fishing for a few Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points and a check.
The thing was, though, I knew what had happened. I was on good fish but had one bad break and didn’t execute the way I should have a couple of other times with quality fish. In my head, I thought that if I settled down and fished hard I could pull myself up in the standings and make a pretty good week out of things.
That’s exactly what happened. On the second day I managed to weigh a better bag. That put me in 19th place. I was only 6 pounds out of first place. On Eufaula that’s not all that much weight. So then after Day 3, Friday, I was a little better than 7 pounds out of it, and I was going to fish the final day, Saturday.
Seven pounds isn’t a lot of weight, but with nine other anglers in front of me I knew a win was a long shot. No matter, I went out with the same positive attitude and fished as hard as I could. I was pretty much by myself at first, but when I caught a couple of good ones all the boats started showing up and the cameras were on me. I knew then that it was close.
I kept fishing, doing the best I know how. It’s a matter of walking through the door that the Lord opens for you regardless of where that might lead you.
If there’s anything to be learned from all of it, it’s to know yourself and don’t let setbacks get the better of you. Stay positive and do what you know you can do. That first day was a struggle. But I knew I had located good fish, and I knew I could do better.
You hear all the time that confidence is the thing that matters the most at this level, but it’s not blind confidence or hope. It’s knowing what you are capable of doing. I think my win at the 2020 DEWALT Bassmaster Elite at Lake Eufaula proves that’s true.