After a fun and rigorous 10 Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments, we’re often asked, “What do you do in the offseason?”
I usually answer them by saying that I’d like to know when that’s coming or by asking them to call and tell me when it comes.
The thing that a lot of fans don’t realize is that fishing the Elite Series is a full-time job. When we’re not competing in tournaments we have other things to do — family catch-up time, sponsor commitments and in my case business responsibilities. It’s a matter of living with the decisions you have made.
I was lucky to marry Sonja and raise a family. I chose to start Missile Baits. I chose to sign with sponsors. I chose to become active in the American Sportfishing Association. Nobody made me do any of those things, and I did all of them without any regrets — not at the time, and not now.
The last two Elite tournament were back-to-back. I live in Virginia so I had to do a lot of traveling. It ended up with me being away from home for almost three weeks. Despite that, it all ended up being for the best. The tournaments went pretty well, and I ended up with my slot in our 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk guaranteed. It’s our 50th, so that’s a big deal in my book.
As soon as I got home, I spent two days in the office working on Missile Baits before heading to Tennessee for the Pitman Creek Wholesale distributor show. Pitman Creek does a great job for us. It’s also a great time to visit with other companies in the industry and other professional anglers.
The event was a little abnormal for me since I had to drive four hours back home after I set up everything to attend my wife’s fitness competition. It all worked out fine, though, and she did great. I’m proud of her.
The day after that she joined me on a business trip to Washington State to attend the ASA Sportfishing Summit. I am on the Show Committee so I have responsibilities with them. I enjoy staying involved in the fishing industry. It’s important for the future, and the ASA does an amazing job of watching after the sport of fishing. It’s time well spent.
The day after returning from the ASA Summit, my family went to Noah’s — my stepson — football game in Farmville, Va. That’s near where I grew up, so we stayed with my dad and Judy. Noah plays quarterback and special teams. Their team won 51-7. Noah scored his first collegiate touchdown on a fake field goal. It was an exciting and enjoyable weekend.
The day after returning from my dad’s place, I drove down to Lake Hartwell to shoot a TV show with Charlie Ingram and Ray Brazier for their Fishing University show. I love Lake Hartwell. We got Drew Cook to join us.
The show is sponsored by SPRO, one of my sponsors. We were there to show anglers how to fish our new spybait, the Spin John 80. Charlie and Ray had no experience with a spybait before the show. In fact, they’d never caught a fish on one. They can’t say that anymore.
For a few weeks I’ll be here at home before sponsor obligations kick in starting in November. I’m not telling you all this because I expect sympathy. I don’t. I tell you this so that you’ll have a real picture of what professional bass fishing is all about.