COVID-19, a back injury and a yes

The year 2020 was one we’ll remember all of our lives, and for good reason. And yet, for its troubles it wasn’t all bad.

The virus turned our society and our sport upside down. In many ways, however, those of us in the fishing industry fared better than many of our neighbors. For the most part our sponsors were able to comply with our contracts, and we were able to do the same.

The other thing was that B.A.S.S. was able to put a full tournament schedule together, although it was a little topsy-turvy for a while. In the early days no one really knew what was going to happen, but over time tournaments were rescheduled. New waters were found, and the tournaments looked sort of like normal. They even managed to do the ones in New York with tests and strict protocols that were followed by everyone.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take advantage of any of that. At the second tournament I was cranking a Strike King Pro Model 6XD when I got a bite. I leaned back and set the hook, or maybe I should say tried to set the hook. My back snapped, and I went down for the count. It felt like someone had stuck a knife in my back. I mean, it really hurt. 

There was no permanent damage, but my season was over. I spent the rest of the year in treatment, physical therapy and rehabilitation work. Over time I’ve gotten better, and I expect to fish the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series season with no problems. 

I do want to say, though, that I was able to fish the 2020 Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River and the 2020 Bassmaster Classic. That counts for something, especially the Classic. There’s nothing like a Classic. It’s more of a happening than it is a bass fishing tournament. 

So that was the first part of my year. The second part was much, much better. 

My favorite song is "Beautiful Day" by U2, and that’s exactly what Nov. 5 was for me. On that day I asked Melissa Wilson to marry me. It was on my favorite lake in Western Kentucky. She said yes. 

I can’t wait for it to happen. As of right now she’s giving me and the kids companionship and love. I can only imagine that it will get even better over time, and I’ll do my very best to do the same for her and her kids.