Classic win seems unreal

For about a week after I won the Bassmaster Classic, it was all a blur. Now that some time has passed, it’s started to sink in. One of the nicest parts about this process of taking it all in has been just sitting down with my wife and family and talking about what all this means.

It still seems unreal.

But when we talk about the Classic’s impact on our lives, we’re already starting to see that. Obviously, the top prize makes a big difference, and that has lifted a huge financial burden off us.

The thing is, we’ve never had money, so we don’t know what to do with it. That’s why there’s been a lot of financial planning meetings.

We definitely want to build a house so we can get out of this doublewide. My wife and I are eager to do that, but we’re not rushing into anything.

In the short term, we’ll be taking our 4-year-old daughter to Disney World. We actually had this trip planned before the Classic, but now maybe we’ll spend another day.

When I think about all that the Classic win means to me, I have to say it’s been a big relief — like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’ve never had a win at any of the major levels, so this feels like I’ve established myself.

Along the way, there were so many incredible moments. It’s hard to say which memory was my favorite, but my last good fish on Day 3 was caught literally right before I had to leave for the weigh-in. I was about to pull up the trolling motor to leave when I decided to go over and fish one last little stretch of bank.

I made a few casts and caught one on a ChatterBait. That fish didn’t even matter in my final weight, but it made me feel better, because it was like it was one of those meant-to-be things.

That’s kinda how I felt the whole tournament. I just felt calm and relaxed. It’s something I still can’t explain. It was such a weird feeling all week.

After a terrible practice, I really didn’t have a game plan. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but it never got in my head.

My biggest thing going into the Classic was keeping an open mind. Every day in practice, the fish did something different, so I told myself to treat every day like a new day.

I can say that a big part of my motivation came from placing fourth at my first Classic in 2022 at Lake Hartwell, but then missing the 2023 Classic cut. Not making last year’s Classic was very disappointing, and it made me work hard to get back.

This year, I felt like getting so close in 2022 really boosted my confidence. I knew what to expect from Classic week with all that went on, and that helped a ton.

What feels great is the momentum of ending last year’s Elite season with a Top 10 at the St. Lawrence River, starting this year with a 14th place at Toledo Bend Reservoir and a third place at Lake Fork, then winning the Classic.

That’s what I’m excited about. With the Classic already secured for next year, I can go out the rest of this season and just have fun. Hopefully, we’ll keep this momentum going.