I’ll be doing this column once a month for a while. I thought it might be good to use the first one to introduce myself. That way you’ll have some perspective on who I am and why I think the way I do.
My brother, Matt, will be doing one, too. We’re not going to coordinate them, though. Each one will be a separate project. We’re close, but we’re still two separate anglers with our own thoughts and ideas.
I’m 24 years old and grew up in Cullman, Ala. I didn’t do much fishing until I was in my early teens. Our neighborhood and our school were all about baseball. We had a state championship caliber team. I played on it, but at some point I realized baseball was not my thing. I was good enough to make the team and play, but I wasn’t good enough to carry on in the sport like a lot of my teammates did. Besides, I was burned-out by years of nothing but baseball.
My pops [paternal grandfather] had a farm pond. One day I went fishing in it with a Senko. I slayed them, and I was hooked. From that point on bass fishing was pretty much all I did. I fished local tournaments on Monday and Friday nights and then, as I grew older, some bigger events around the South.
I had some early success. As I look back on things I think that was really important. It gave me the confidence I needed to move up, and confidence is an important part of tournament bass fishing.
My parents were, and are, extremely supportive. My dad was, and still is, a veterinarian with a very active practice, so he had trouble getting away for the tournaments. But my mom was able to take me to local tournaments before I could drive and then, even after I could drive, she’d go with me for support. I think she wanted to keep an eye on me, too, although she never came right out and said it.
I say “thanks” for both of them every day. Their material support was great, but much more important was their emotional support. There’s no way I’d be where I am today without them.
My first boat was the family’s 36-foot pleasure craft with no trolling motor. It wasn’t suited for bass fishing. In a strange way, though, that helped. Its fishing limitations forced me to develop some of the basic skills I have now. After a while my parents got me a real fishing boat. It was small and basic but it had what I needed to improve my skills.
Most of my fishing skills are self-taught. I fished every chance I had regardless of what else was going on. Most days I took my boat to school so I could fish for a couple of hours after school before I had to go home.
I did research on the Internet, and I read Bassmaster Magazine as well as several other publications. They helped. But fishing is like a lot of other sports. You can acquire knowledge and get tips from anywhere, and they might be helpful, but if you’re going to get really good you have to do it.
After high school I attended Auburn University to study marketing. I fished for Auburn's team. My brother joined me there after two years when he transferred in from Birmingham-Southern College. We were fortunate enough to make the Classic through the college program. Regardless of how much success I have during my fishing career, I can tell you that I’ll never forget that experience. It was a big deal that can’t be measured.
After college I fished both B.A.S.S. and FLW tournaments. In 2014, I qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series through the Central Opens.
That’s my story. If you have any special topics you’d like me to write about, post them under this column. I’ll watch for them. More than anything else, I want this project to be relevant.