My professional bucket list

A career in professional fishing is a long-term project. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up as you gain more skill and experience. So far things are going in that direction for me. I feel like I’m starting to make it. 

I’ve always had four things on my professional bucket list: an Elite Series win, a Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, a Bassmaster Classic championship and a cover on Bassmaster Magazine. I got one of them this month. I’m on the cover of Bassmaster Magazine. I couldn’t be prouder.

The AOY title this year is probably out. I’m 161 points behind. I’ll fish next year’s Classic so a win there is a possibility. 

As the Elite Series heads to Lake Champlain and then the St. Lawrence River, a win might be a possibility. My results up there are mixed but not disastrous. Last year I finished 32nd at Lake Champlain and 74th at the St. Lawrence River. But, in 2019 I finished 35th on the river.

I caught them two out of three times in Elite tournaments. They just weren’t big enough. With more experience and the knowledge from the past two years I’m thinking I can do better. I’m not predicting anything. I’m just saying things look up to me at this point. Believe me when I tell you that I didn’t realize how hard it is to win an Elite tournament until I tried.  

And, speaking of looking up, that’s pretty much my thoughts about my whole career. I fished back in college with some success and then moved up to the Bassmaster Opens level in 2018 where I qualified for the 2019 Bassmaster Elite series. 

Actually, though, I did fish one Open back in 2015, but it was only one. I finished 23rd, though.

My sponsorships and my finances have been good too. I have a couple of primary sponsors that I’m proud to represent, and I think they’re proud to have me. But I have to say that sponsors don’t come easy in this business. Anyone who thinks that just because you make it to the Elites that means automatic sponsorships is sadly mistaken. You have to work hard to get them and work hard to keep them.

When it comes to finances I’ve been just as fortunate. Back in 2017 and 2018 I fished a team trail with a fair amount of success. I made some money and saved it so I had a cushion when I went to the Opens. I did the same thing with my Open winnings so I had a little something to help me when I got to the Elites.

I said I saved my money early on but that wasn’t all that difficult for me. I’m a really frugal guy. Maybe I should have written really frugal. I once stayed in a $30 a night motel when I was fishing. I say stayed because I didn’t sleep there. I spent the night on the bed with one eye open looking for the other guests and the other eye open looking for four legged critters with long tails — the big kind. I also tried sleeping in my truck. Let’s just say that sounds like a better plan when you think about it than it is when you actually do it. 

The last thing I want to mention is the most important. I met the love of my life, Jennifer, and we were married on May 9 last year. We’re expecting our first child. 

I don’t know how long it’ll take me to mark off the other three things on my bucket list, but I’ll keep at it until I do. With the help and support of Jennifer I know it’ll happen. 

P.S.: I now travel with a couple of other anglers. We rent houses — no more $30 a night motels and no more thinking about sleeping in my truck.