How I got here

This past season was my fifth season on the Bassmaster Elite Series. Man what an awesome ride it has been up to this point. I’ve had some up-and-down tournaments, especially this year, but for the most part I’m happy with where my career is at this point. Sure I’d love to have a couple of those blue trophies on my mantle, and I’ve come close a couple times, but I know my time will come sooner or later if I keep putting myself in position.

I’ve met a lot of really great people over the past five years. Meeting fans, and especially kids who love fishing is one of my favorite parts of being a pro angler. I’m 30 years old now, but it seems like yesterday I was carrying a bucket of minnows down a creek bank with this dream of one day becoming a professional angler.

I thought I’d take you guys on a walk with me down memory lane and let’s talk about how I made it to the Elite Series. 

I grew up in southern, middle Tennessee, just a short ways from the Alabama state line. Like a lot of kids, I picked up the fishing bug from my dad and my grandfather. We fished mostly creeks, rivers and ponds when I was young, and it wasn’t until my teenage years that I ever fished out of a boat much. We were multi-species fishermen also. We fished for bass, crappie, catfish, bluegill, whatever would bite really.

As a youngster I had the same passion for fishing that I still have today. I wanted to go every day, because I had the desire to learn all the different baits to use and the different ways to catch fish. I know it’s probably hard for people to believe, but in grade school when the teachers asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always told them without missing a beat “a professional fisherman.”

At that age I had no way of knowing how the business side worked or what the job consisted of, but I knew I wanted to make a living with a rod and reel.

Jumping into my teenage years, I fished my first bass tournament at 16. It was just a small Friday night wildcat tournament with eight or nine boats in it but we won that tournament, and it made my passion grow even stronger. Soon after, I met a good friend of mine, and we started fishing local tournaments together regularly. We actually even ended up going to the same college, the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and competed on the bass fishing team there.

I can’t tell you how important the college level was to my career. We never won any national championships, although we did fish in a couple, but it’s where I learned a lot about the business side of fishing such as working for sponsors and getting to know people to make connections.

After college I came back home and went to work at a local plastics factory in my hometown. My plan was to work there, fish every chance I possibly could and start fishing the Bassmaster Opens to try and qualify for the Elite Series. Easy enough right? It certainly wasn’t easy, but I managed to qualify for the Elites in my second year fishing the Opens by finishing first in points for 2013. I quit my job at the plastics factory on Valentine’s Day 2014 and hit the road for the Elite Series soon after. Long story short, here I am now. 

Looking back, I’ve had a lot of things go my way, and I feel very blessed that things have worked out the way they have. A lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to help me get here as well and for that I will always be grateful. Honestly I still don’t feel like I’ve “made it” in this sport yet, and I hope I never do because I want that drive to succeed to keep growing stronger and stronger, but I guess I have made it enough to tell my old grade school teachers “I told you so” though.

In all seriousness, if you get a chance to take a kid fishing, do it. This is a great sport that we can all enjoy!