Each year when the tournament season ends I spend the first few months winding down from the hectic tournament fishing season and turn to my other passion, hunting. It is something I have always done, and it helps give me a little break from fishing and allows me to reconnect with the outdoors in the woods instead of on the water. This offseason has been different though, and I have spent much less time hunting and more time connecting in a different way, as it is my first offseason as a father.
You always hear about how having children will change your life and how your priorities shift, and it is very true. You never imagine it or really believe it until it happens. In April, Stella Kay Clausen came into our lives and changed them for the better. So this offseason, most of my spare time is spent with my wife Kailin and Stella. Your priorities change quickly when you have a child, and I can assure you it has all been worth it.
I am eagerly waiting for the 2018 Bassmaster Elite Series season to start as it has a great schedule with some interesting fisheries on it. Some of them I have been to many times and some are brand new to me. This is what keeps me excited each year, getting to experience new places and meet fans in different areas.
A Classic return
This will also be my first trip back to the Bassmaster Classic since 2006, the year I was able to win on Lake Toho in Florida. With so much excitement ahead, you would think that I would be restless and ready to get going. I am, but I am also content with spending time just being a father. It has already been nearly eight months, and the time has flown by. Now I will spend time prepping for next season, but I will not obsess over it as much as I have in years past.
Besides the fact that we have a baby at home, there are other reasons why the offseason keeps me busy. It is a time when all of us on the Elite Series have to get ready for the upcoming season. There is so much to do to get ready for the next year, including many things that some people may not realize.
It seems like each day I spend time booking hotels, mapping the best routes and booking flights. This is in addition to working with my sponsors and the new products they are working on. It is also a time when all of my orders have to be placed. Everything from my new Ranger, my jersey, my rods, reels, line and more have to be ordered and ready for in time for the season.
Not to mention, I have to start thinking about all of the different bodies of water we will be fishing, how I plan to fish them and what tackle I will need. There is also a challenge with living in the northwest as I have to plan ahead to make sure my truck and boat are stocked with tackle for all of the various places we visit. I leave my boat thousands of miles across the country before events and then fly home between events to spend our off-time in Spokane, Wash., so there is a little more planning involved. It is not as easy as going back home and removing items and restocking before the next event. While it can be a drawback at times, it also works out great for me as I can spend more time with my family, and it is even more important now with a daughter at home.
Instead of spending every spare moment in the woods or fun fishing, my offseason now includes valuable time spent taking care of our little one and enjoying the moment. Time becomes more valuable when you become a father. I still have the same passion for tournament fishing, but my outlook has definitely changed.