In the last three tournaments I finally got over the hump. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. I figured some things out and ended my year with a 10th place finish, a 45th place finish and a 55th place finish, not in that order. I won’t say that’s great, but it was a heck of a lot better than what I had been doing earlier in the year.
What exactly happened and how I fixed it isn’t important. What is important is that I took positive action to fix a problem. Problems rarely fix themselves. You have to admit they exist and then do something about them.
Fishing with bad line is an example of what I’m talking about. If your line is bad and it keeps breaking, you can retie all you want or strip a few yards off the spool and then retie but that won’t do a thing. Your line will still break. You have to replace it all, or you’re wasting your time.
Despite my horrible season — the worst of my career — I got a raise from several of my sponsors and only lost money from one or two. On one level that’s pretty amazing, but on another level it isn’t. I’ve always tried to deal with my sponsors the way I want them to deal with me. I do more than the minimum my contracts require, and I never blame them or my equipment and tackle for my problems.
If I do have an issue with something I’m using, I talk to them about it in a quiet, confidential and professional manner. You’ll never hear about it in the press or see me lose my temper in a video. I’d like to think they know that and respect it.
You see, sponsor and angler relationships should be longterm. As my career proves, painfully, no matter how high you’re flying today there will be a time when fate brings you down. I had several years when things went my way one tournament after another. A guy couldn’t have asked for anything more. But then…
I fished the 2013 Bassmaster Classic as the reigning Bassmaster Classic champion and didn’t get a bite the first day. Think about that. It wasn’t that I didn’t catch one, or that my fish were small. That would have been bad enough. It was that I didn’t even get a bite. And then, of course, there was this season.
But during the good times I didn’t hold up my sponsors for every dollar they had in the bank. I dealt with them reasonably and so, when things went the other way, they remembered that and treated me the same way.
It’s a strange thing, sometimes. Some people will talk about their professional life and then their personal life. I don’t see the difference. As far as I’m concerned they are one and the same.
I’m thinking 2018 won’t be a repeat of 2017. I’m ready to go!