A look back … and ahead

We’re way past halftime in the Bassmaster Elite Series season, but we’re taking a break for ICAST, so it’s a natural time for a little self-evaluation.

It’s hard to be too critical of my year since it started with a win at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic, but I’m not very happy with my performance in the Elite tournaments so far. I’m 18th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, which is certainly not bad, but I had hopes of challenging for AOY this year, and that’s obviously not going to happen.

Overall, my problems seem to be coming on Day 2 and Day 3 of the events. I’m just not making the right moves to capitalize on first round success or to control the damage when I have a slow start. It’s tough to say just what I’m doing wrong — if I knew, I could fix it, right? — but it’s something I’m thinking about and will be working on.

I think I just need some time at home and with my family to recharge my batteries. There’s nothing like family, home and a few days on the tractor at the pecan farm to put everything back in perspective and get me fired up for the rest of the season.

One thing I’m really looking forward to is our upcoming family trip to Mexico. It’s partly a graduation gift for my daughter, Kylee, and partly a family vacation. My wife has everything planned, and we’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors enjoying the sights and each other.

When I get back, I’m off to a Bass Pro Shops event in Tennessee followed by ICAST in Orlando. A lot of people think working a trade show like ICAST would be dull, but I actually look forward to it. It’s one of the few chances I get all year to visit with my sponsors, many of whom have become close friends. I’ll chat with them in the booths and have dinner with them, but it all goes by too fast.

Another thing I love about ICAST is the chance to see all the new fishing stuff that will be coming out in a few months. I’m especially excited about the products that I’ve had a hand in or have seen go through the necessary evolution between concept and introduction.

Andy’s Custom Bass Lures (I won the Classic on their E Series Finesse Jig) has new jigs in their Rattlin’ E Series. Megabass has four or five new baits I’m excited about, including a new prop bait that’s already one of my favorite topwaters and a bait called the iLoud that’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

The Wiley X people have their heart and soul in the sport. I truly love spending time with them. And Pelican — one of my newest sponsors — is growing their presence in the outdoors market, and I’m looking forward to spending some face-to-face time with them.

I’m also planning to spend time in the Mustad booth. For me, it’s really special to be part of a company that has been a cornerstone of the industry for so many decades. They’re a leader for a reason, and the new hooks they’re bringing to ICAST prove it again this year.

Before I leave on our family trip, I want to remind you that we’ll have another installment of the Healing Heroes in Action Tour in Arkansas on July 26. If you want to be a part of it and support a great cause (Wounded Warriors), check out my Facebook page for details. And if you can’t make it to Arkansas to fish with us, check it out on Bassmaster.com. We’ll have live coverage right here.

Adios for now!