I’ve had an awesome year, and I’m thankful for it. I thought I’d try to explain some of it so that everyone gets a little insight into my world, and into the real world of professional bass fishing.
It all started with the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. That win was huge in several ways. The prestige of the title and the money mattered. With my short career it was a great way to get things going.
But maybe the most important part was that it gave me confidence for the rest of the year. I’d won the big one and, at the same time, I didn’t have to worry about the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race because I had a guaranteed spot in the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods. That confidence and the guaranteed spot allowed me to fish without pressure. I was able to fish my way without any worries.
However, the first half of the year wasn’t as good as the second half. I don’t know why except that I did much better chasing smallies than I did chasing largemouth. That sounds strange to say because I’m from Alabama and have a lot more experience with largemouth, but that’s not the whole story.
I’ve fished a lot for spotted bass. They’re not the same as smallmouth but they’re sort of the same. They both roam a lot and they don’t act as predicable as largemouth. That makes them sort of like smallmouth. There is a big difference, though. Smallmouth bite easier than spots so in some ways they’re easier to catch.
I guess that sounds confusing, but if you’ve fished for spots you know what I’m saying. The experience is valuable when you go after smallmouth.
Another thing is that I have more experience in the North fishing for smallmouth than you might think. I’ve been up there several times fishing with B.A.S.S. and another circuit. Over time I’ve learned something about the lakes we fished and what’s going on with them. That’s huge because it gives you a starting point during practice. You learn more before the tournament starts.
If you count the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, I managed to get three Top 12 finishes out of four tournaments up there. That made the difference in how I finished in the points. I was never in the Top 10 until those tournaments.
I have to say that I’m really excited about next year. The lakes and rivers are different and there aren’t so many smallmouth events in the northern part of the country. I really like that. I don’t wan’t to fish the same places over and over. It’s nice in the sense that you know where you’re going, but it isn’t as interesting as fishing a lake or river you’ve never seen and know nothing about.
The last thing I want to say is that I’m glad B.A.S.S. made the decision they did about not fishing Louisiana waters during the Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River. I don’t have anything against Louisiana, but their laws are different. I can’t imagine how any of us would have been able to determine where we could legally fish and where we couldn’t. It could have turned into a mess.
Hey — if any of you have questions about how to fish certain conditions or about how to use certain lures post them in the comments section below. I’ll try to answer them next time.