This is about as good as it gets. It’s a validation of sorts. I’ve wanted to come down from Brainerd, Minn., and try the Opens — along with the possibility of fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series — for years. I was finally in a position to do it, and look what happened. I won the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open at the Harris Chain of Lakes.
I own a couple of businesses that I’ve finally gotten to the level where I can leave them for a few weeks and they’ll still produce. That helps with finances. I didn’t want to try to compete until I was stable financially. I understand and respect sponsors. Without them there would be no professional bass fishing. At the same time, though, I didn’t want that to become an issue — the work in developing them and fulfilling my contractual obligations to them.
The other thing was that the Southern Opens — the only ones I’m fishing — have a schedule that works into my business life. I manufacture a product to assist with hauling heavy loads, primarily race cars, so my busy time is during the summer. The Southern Opens fish two events early and one in the fall. It works out just right.
And, my daughter, Breanne Marie, is a teenager now. She still needs me, but it’s not like she’s little. You know what I’m saying. She can take care of herself without daddy supervising everything. She can do her thing with her friends while I’m on the road, and then we can make up time together when I get back.
We make up a lot of that time fishing. But with us it’s not about serious bass fishing or serious tournaments. It’s fun all the way, even when we are prefishing for a tournament. One of our favorite activities is to target grass and catch crappie and bluegill, or bream to you southern anglers.
Anyway, I finally got serious about it and checked around with some people who’s judgement I trust. I wanted to see what they thought about my making an effort to upgrade my tournament fishing. My family and friends were supportive of the idea including my B.A.S.S. Nation Team partner, Andy Walls, and my daughter.
Andy and I fished the 2020 Bassmaster Team Championship on the Harris Chain. We had a great time and ended up with a second-place finish. That got me thinking about the Opens. He really encouraged me to go for it. He repeatedly said I could do this at the Opens level.
Breanne was a big influence too. She wanted me to try, and she told me over and over that I had the skills to be successful. You know, when someone like your daughter says that, you start to believe them. In truth, that’s basically the way it happened.
That’s the backstory of who I am and how I got here. Now it’s time to look toward the future.
The win gives me a slot in the 2022 Bassmaster Classic. That is just huge. The thought of that hasn’t fully sunk in yet. It’s the biggest tournament in bass fishing. Wow!
The Elite Series, while on my mind, is something I’m not going to let distract me. Obviously, it would mean a whole new career at a whole new level of fishing. Right now, though, I’m still learning and enjoying the opportunity to fish the Opens as well as meeting the very talented men and women competing in them.
There are two more Opens left. I’ll be fishing them, and that’s where I’ll focus my attention right now.