Before coming to B.A.S.S. a few years ago, I was fortunate to experience a lot of success at FLW. My highest achievement there was winning the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup. Now I have to say that winning the St. Croix Bassmaster Open on my home waters of Lake Okeechobee tied for my career’s most meaningful moment.
Looking at the complete picture, winning the Forrest Wood Cup represented a championship for my dad, who was fishing Bassmaster events at the time. So it was my version of the Bassmaster Classic for him.
Also, the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup was on Lake Ouachita where my grandmother was born. I actually stayed at her 150-year-old house on the lake. It was like a home away from home.
My Open win on Okeechobee was right up there with that Forrest Wood Cup memory. It was one of the most important things that’s ever happened to me in my career, and doing it at our family marina where my dad won a Bassmaster Invitational in 1991 made it that much more special.
That’s where the dream happened for me. Watching may dad hold that trophy over his head, as a teenager, I said that’s what I want to do. Fast forward 33 years to the next time Bassmaster comes to Clewiston, and I win my first Bassmaster event.
It was so special for my parents to be in the crowd watching, and there’s a part of that story I haven’t mentioned. Right after my dad won that Bassmaster tournament in ‘91, Bass’n Gals came to Clewiston a month later, and my mom won that event. So, I watched my mom and dad win major tournaments on the site where I won my first Bassmaster event.
All I can say is, life comes full circle and, in my mind, God’s timing is perfect.
I could have won at other places and it would have been very meaningful, but to do it at the place where it all started for me — and to drop a Day 1 bag of 33 pounds on the scales 33 years after my dad’s win — that’s just amazing.
As far as the fishing, when I look back, a 30-pound daily average and a 6-pound average for 15 fish was unbelievable.
The key all week was patience, patience, patience. I knew 100% what to expect with the fishing pressure, but I didn’t pay attention to what was going on around me.
The first day, my co-angler would tell me, “Someone caught a good one over there.” I finally said, “Don’t tell me about other people catching fish.” I didn’t want to be distracted. I just put my head down and fished.
One of the best things about my Open win is I start my fishing season on a high note. Securing a spot in the 2025 Bassmaster Classic takes a lot of pressure off me and gives me a lot of momentum going into a new Elite season.
I don’t know what the future holds, so I’m going to fish my butt off and take it one tournament at a time. I just have to make good decisions to put myself in the right areas to do well.
When you’re feeling good, you make good decisions. When you make good decisions, good fish catches happen and good opportunities arise.