Now that I’ve had the chance to catch my breath and reflect after being the college representative in bass fishing’s biggest tournament two weeks ago, I wanted to share a few of the moments I’ll never forget from my time at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
First, I want to thank my family, my fishing buddies, Bryan College, B.A.S.S., Carhartt, Dynamic Sponsorships and every single brand or person that in some large or small way helped a quiet kid who grew up in Ohio live his dreams.
I first realized my dreams were becoming reality during Day 1 of competition when 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion Edwin Evers was tied up next to me before launch. Then, as soon as we began to idle out, I looked behind me and there was the 2003 Bassmaster Classic champ, Mike Iaconelli. I’m not gonna lie, I had tears in my eyes before I dropped the throttle down to head to my first fishing spot.
I did okay that first day. I caught a couple of keepers on a dropshot rig really early to settle my nerves and get the ball rolling. Then I fished for largemouth as the day progressed with a skirted jig and the tube jig I have so much confidence in.
Oh, and here’s a quick fishing tip amid the sentimental memoires – generally, I rig the tube jig on 20-pound line with a 1/4-ounce weight, but as waters warm in summer, I use a heavier 3/8 ounce to create a faster fall rate that bass seem to react to better in July, August and September.
I caught an 11-pound limit during the first day of the Classic, and it was during Day 1 weigh-in that my second unforgettable memory came.
Let me tell you, I had dreamed of what it would feel like to be towed into the Classic weigh-in arena in front of that huge crowd most of my life – and it didn’t disappoint one bit when it finally happened. I may or may not have had tears in my eyes for the second time that day.
Lastly, one of my best memories from my first Classic will always be watching my fellow Carhartt teammate Jordan Lee become a back-to-back Classic Champion.
I’m kind of in the same spot Jordan was in just four short years ago when he was the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series representative at the Classic. So watching the unbelievable success he’s had since 2014 is super inspiring to me.
Jordan Lee is just a good dude, and he’s given me lots of advice. He's made it clear that if he can ever help me, all I have to do is let him know.
Watching him win another Classic definitely lit the fire under me to work hard to qualify for another Classic sooner rather than later, so I can experience all that awesomeness again.