B.A.S.S. fans may not know a lot about me yet, because I've spent my career fishing FLW events – and because I live just outside of Toronto, Ontario – but you'll hopefully be hearing a lot about me soon. Ever since I was a kid I've wanted to fish Bassmaster and make it to the Classic, and here I am!
My brother Chris is fishing the Elites with me too. We travel and room together and even share bank accounts. Every time we turned on the TV to watch fishing when we were young it was always Bassmaster, the Classic and Kevin VanDam and all these big names. When I had the chance to join the Elite Series I jumped on the opportunity.
Obviously, the first call I made was to my main sponsor Power-Pole. I ran the idea by them. I think they had some other plans for me, but being the great company they are, we worked together and Power-Pole is going to be my main sponsor for 2019. We're working on the wrap right now, and my other sponsors have all brought support as well – Shimano, G. Loomis, Power-Pro, Jackall, Under Armor, Costa Del Mar, Ranger, Garmin, Pelican, TH Marine, Geiger Tech and Evinrude. I'm so thankful for that.
Living in Canada, for me to cross the border and compete against all these guys I've watched our whole lives is pretty eye-opening. And it was intimidating at first – the anglers and the waters – but once I settled in and started fishing, I realized it's just me against the bass. All I have to do is figure the bass out a little better than the next guy. Once I figured that out I started having success – a top 10 at the St. Clair Bassmaster Northern Open in 2014, two FLW Series wins (James River in 2015 and Oneida in 2016), six other FLW Series top 10s and four FLW Tour top 10s. I'm really excited to bring that momentum as I shift my career into the Elite Series.
A lot of reader may not know that the Ontario bass season doesn't open until mid-June. That means we can't even target bass in any way until opening day. Which actually helps my schedules, because I head down to fish the U.S. from roughly January through mid-June, and the Canadian bass-tournament season opens just as I get back – things like the B1s and CFSL and Canadian Open. So I've really benefitted from being able to fish for money in the U.S. and Canada through a full season. It's the best of both worlds because our bite here explodes just as the bite down south starts to get super-tough and the weather gets too hot.
To talk about the Elite Series schedule for a second, I'm really looking forward to fishing the northern stops – especially the St. Lawrence River. I've spent a lot of time there the last 10 years and done fairly well – the Elite Series will never fish a place I know better than the St. Lawrence – so that's the tournament I'm most looking forward to. And I've long dreamed of beating the best of the best on what I consider my home water.
I wouldn't say I'm concerned about any of the tour stops, but I'll admit that Winyah Bay's in the back of my head, in terms of how to approach it and what to do there. It's a tidal fishery, and I've done well on some tidal fisheries, but that one's in the back of my mind as a little concerning.
As I mentioned, I'm traveling and staying with my brother Chris, but we're also traveling with Jeff Gustafson, who's also from Ontario. I'm pretty close with Gussy through our Shimano sponsorship. I've been with Shimano going back probably 15 years now and going to sportsmans shows with Gussy. The first time we met we hit it off really good and have been friends and working partners since.
Canadian bass scene is serious
A lot of people don't realize how many bass fishing fans there actually are in Canada. The tournaments and boats and gear here are right in line with the U.S. Everybody has Power-Poles, front-and-back electronics, everything. Bass fishing has really taken off in Canada. Of course hockey's big too. I played several years of Juniors and Senior A in Ontario, but bass competition's definitely in my blood. I've been around tournament fishing here for as long as I can remember. In fact, we grew up watching my dad fish tournaments, and it always seemed like there were 200 boats.
Bass fishing is growing really well here. Remember that Toronto is the fourth-largest city in the North America, behind only Mexico City, New York and Los Angeles. Except that Toronto is right on Lake Ontario with Lake Huron and thousands of other bass lakes within a few hours driving distance. Picture a thousand little Lake Champlains. Bass fishing here is truly incredible.
Where I live in Peterborough, I consider my true home lake to be the Tri-Lakes Region, which is Pigeon, Buckhorn and Sturgeon. Rice Lake is also very close. And Simcoe's about an hour from me.
All that's great, but what matters the most to me right now are the eight Elite Series lakes I'll be fishing in the next 8 months on the road to my ultimate dream of fishing the Bassmaster Classic. And I can't wait to share all the stories right here with you.