Focus is a subject you don’t hear much about except when a professional bass tournament is on the line. The truth is, though, that it’s much more important to the success of catching bass in any situation than anyone ever talks about — until now.
My life is busy. I have a family, a business and a professional fishing career. My family comes first. My wife and I have a lot of fun together. My stepson is in college, but we spent a ton of time together doing lots of activities.
I try to help coach my daughters’ sports teams and attend all the games and meets I can. I eat lunch with my youngest daughter at her elementary school once a week when I’m in town. My older daughter is in middle school so I can't do that anymore with her. I wish I could.
Beyond that it’s like I have two other jobs — Missile Baits and social media — and that’s before we get to my fishing career. I’m the president and owner of Missile Baits, which entails everything from pulling weeds to signing checks.
We started the company in 2012. It’s grown into a business that sells to just about every major retailer and distributor around as well as in several countries around the world besides the United States. We employ four full-time people and four part-time people. I forecast sales, develop and oversee advertising plans, handle purchasing and manage our team. On top of that I help develop new lures, test the prototypes, and put together our next project.
I’m not saying I do more than anyone else who owns a successful small business. I don’t. I do what is required of any small business owner. But if you’re going to be successful, you’re going to put in the time and the effort to make sure you do all you can.
Social media is also big, for both Missile Baits and my career. Things move fast in that world. It’s a daily grind to stay current. But again, if you’re going to be successful you’re going to put in the time and the effort to understand each channel and create quality content.
I do my best to post at least once a day on all three of my main channels, and I shoot YouTube videos as often as possible. Social media is a requirement these days. It stopped being an option years ago.
Given all of that, fishing tournaments is the foundation of everything in my life except for my family and my faith. Tournaments are challenging and stimulating. I love the variables. Catching the five biggest bass you can in a day will always be in my blood.
As intense and physically grueling as a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament week is, it creates a kind of relief. You fish against the best so the competition is a tall task. It requires your total attention before and during the week. I actually love the long hours and continuous grind of an Elite event. Everything else in my life, except my family, disappears.
If you just show up and fish a tournament like that, you will fail. That was my problem last year. I was in pretty good standing in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race last year — in good standing that is until the last two tournaments. I lost my laser focus on what matters, staying on the bite. I paid the price. That wasn’t the only time in my career it happened, but it was a wakeup call for focus.
The Elite Series is at the top of the food chain. The anglers fishing it are very, very good. You take your eye off the ball for an instant and you will find yourself in the bottom of the standings. You have to leave everything else behind. It’s about focus, total focus.
All of this leads us to you and your fishing.
If you expect to be successful and to catch bass regularly, you have to focus. It doesn’t matter one bit if you’re a recreational angler, a weekend tournament angler or an aspiring professional. It’s about never taking your eye off the ball, total commitment to catching bass.
I didn’t give you the details of my life so that you would feel sorry for me. We’re all busy. I know that. I did it so that you would understand that no matter how busy you are or how pressure packed your life has become you can, at times, put everything aside and concentrate on your fishing.
When you’re on the water it’s about the lake or river, the season, the weather, the wind, the terrain, your electronics, your lure choices and whatever else seems to be affecting the bite. That’s your total existence. You aren’t anything else other than an angler trying to catch a fish, and you’re not responsible for anything else.
That’s all there is in your life and to your life. For me, that kind of focus is therapeutic.
But the world isn’t always as simple as I’ve described it. There are things we have to attend to no matter what. They really are important, more important than fishing. I’ll admit that I answer emails and texts every day during Elite Series weeks that deal with family, Missile Baits, sponsors and other business matters. I have no choice. Maybe you have the same issues. Things you can’t ignore.
My point remains the same, however. The closer you come to a perfect world of total focus, the more bass you’ll catch.