It’s an amazing feeling, winning a Bassmaster Elite Series tournament. I’ve worked for years — from when I was a kid — perfecting my skills as a bass angler and it all came down to the final day at the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at Lake Oahe presented by Abu Garcia.
When I say I’ve worked for years to get this, I mean it. Back in California where I grew up I flipped and pitched grass and mats endlessly as a kid learning everything I could about the sport. I didn’t flip or pitch this week but the ability to concentrate and keep moving around while not scaring my bass was critical. I learned that by spending endless days on the water.
The thing about smallmouth is that they tend to be a little bit random and they’re kind of rogues. You never know what to expect. I’ve fished the same way they live for most of my life so it didn’t bother me at all to look around and keep moving until I found them. The only difference, really, was that I was using lighter tackle.
This is unbelievable. You know, even after you make it to the Elites there’s still that nagging doubt in the back of your mind. Am I really good enough to compete against these guys? Sure, I made it, but do I really belong? This tournament answered that nagging doubt. I know I can compete with anyone.
I guess I’m not the first guy to say that. It’s hard to explain what a win does. It’s not arrogance on my part. I don’t want anybody to think that. It’s a kind of confidence that I’ve faced the best of the best and prevailed.
If this win means anything for any other angler, it’s that preparation and constant practice and learning will pay off when it counts. You have to pay your dues and spend your time on the water. But if you do, you can succeed.
Something else I want to talk about is the support you get from other guys. There’s a lot of them out there but I especially want to mention Jacob Wheeler and Dustin Connell.
We fished the Opens together and came into the Elites together. Over that time we became friends and started hanging out together. Now we room together. We look out for each other and make sure we’re all surrounded with a positive attitude.
I hope everyone reading this has the opportunity to make a friendship like we have done. It’s one of the most important things in my life. It’s never fun to struggle but it would be worse to come back to a negative attitude. I don’t have to worry about that. I have true friends.
There’s no feeling I can describe besides what I’ve already said. It’s everything I’ve dreamed about. I’ve won a couple of other tournaments before but this is the biggest one. I’m numb. I didn’t see all this emotion coming, but I sure want it to come again.