It’s hard to describe what this means to me and my family. I felt pretty good after the last day of practice, but winning one of these things is a tough thing to do. There’s no such thing as “for sure.” I know as well as anyone alive how quickly a win can slip away from you.
You hear all the time that a Classic isn’t like any other tournament. That’s true. I’ve had a decent year. I’m at 17th in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, but still, going into the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk as last year’s winner was special. It’s nice, but it’s also a lot of pressure.
In some ways, though, the pressure is easier to deal with at a Classic because there’s no worry about catching five fish. It’s not about points. It’s about five bites that end up in your livewell. You win, or you don’t.
The five bite thing was especially important this year. There’s nothing wrong with the size of the bass in Ray Roberts, but you’re not going to catch a lot of fish. It’s not like some other Texas lakes where you can catch one after the other and try to cull your weight up to what you think you’ll need.
If I’ve ever fished a tougher tournament, I can’t remember when or where. It was a matter of grinding out every day one fish at a time. There never was a point where I felt comfortable. It was nerve wracking.
Things were different for Jaclyn. She said she never had a doubt that I would win. She just knew it would happen. It was in her heart. That did give me some comfort. I’ve learned over the years to trust her and her judgement. And, she was right.
Some of her positive thinking might have come from the suppers she provided for me. Last year in Birmingham I ate Subway Italian B.M.T. sandwiches every night for supper, just before we went to bed. I did the same thing this year thanks to her watchful eye.
I’m just sayin’ that didn’t hurt anything … and I bet I eat the same thing next year.
Really, I don’t know much else to say. This second win hasn’t totally sunk in yet. It’s hard to explain. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful wife, good kids and faith in the Lord. On top of all that this honor is beyond words. I’m a blessed man. That is for sure.
Something else I want to mention is my recovery from COVID. Most of you know that I was really sick with it last year. My recovery was long. It took me months to get back to 100% where I am now. I thank the Lord for that, and Jaclyn’s care. She really is a trooper. Taking care of a husband and two kids is no easy task.
The last thing I want to mention is the fans that I have. We were fishing in Texas. That is a ways from North Carolina. No matter, I had a ton of fans show up every single day and root for me. That meant a lot to me. You know, it just makes you feel good.
So, about all I can say beyond all of that is that I’ll do my best to be the best Classic champion ever. It’s on me to promote bass fishing and B.A.S.S. And, that I’ll put my head down next March and try to win a third one at the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk on Lake Hartwell.
Until then I want everyone to go fishing.