I started this year in a comfortable, if motivated, position. As many of you know last year was my first year with the Bassmaster Elite Series. I came over from FLW where I had a lot of success. Nevertheless, I didn’t make the Bassmaster Classic. That was a real disappointment.
We all have our goals when the year starts, but one of them is common to all of us. We want to fish the next Classic. It’s a matter of pride. That’s why I say I was motivated. I didn’t want that to happen again.
I also said I was comfortable. I had a year of fishing the Elites under my belt. I knew the other anglers and the procedures and all the other things. It felt like I was home, like I belonged.
The year started well for me. I had a 16th-place finish in Florida. And then, right after the Classic, the COVID-19 virus got control of things. Our schedule was upended, and none of us knew what was going on or what would happen.
Now, what I’m about to say is something I want everyone to read carefully. The damage to people and the economy was, and is, horrible. There’s no way anyone can say anything different. However, from a fishing point of view, it made a positive difference for me.
Everything was at a stop. Not only were the tournaments moved around and rescheduled, but the business side of professional bass fishing was stopped, too. And most of the other things were either shutdown, or may as well have been.
There was nothing to do except go out on the water, enjoy the day, mess around with new ideas and catch a few bass. In that way it allowed me to get back to the real joy of fishing. I like to compete, but what I really like is to catch fish. That’s why I’m in this business.
So anyway, as the tournaments unfolded things went along pretty well for me. Overall, I had a really good Northern Swing. One of the highlights of being up there was fishing out of Clayton, New York. That’s where I fished my first ever B.A.S.S. tournament back in 1992. That was special.
When we came back down to the South, I was energized. Things were going my way. I don’t like downtime. Back-to-back tournaments are my thing. I get in the zone. My performance was steady and positive.
And then, along came Lake Chickamagua. I finished in 81st place. I did catch one bass, though.
On one level you can say that hurt me, and you’ll never hear me say I want to finish that low again. At the same time, however, in the end it put a positive spin on things. That’s because when we went into Texas I didn’t have any pressure on me.
I’d met my goal of making the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts. I was good there. And, I wasn’t leading the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings so I didn’t feel any pressure there, either. Obviously, I knew I was in the running but that’s not the same as being in first place.
After all is said and done, it was a good year.
I want to end this by thanking my family, sponsors, all of our fans and especially B.A.S.S. and their sponsors for making this award possible. It’s something I will always display proudly.