As I’m writing this blog I’m sitting in my Skeeter Boat in Palatka, Fla., getting ready for the first event of the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series schedule. It seems like only yesterday that the 2019 AOY Championship wrapped up, but the offseason seemed to fly by. As I reflect on what is to come in the next 45 days, it’s crazy to think about what is ahead.
It’s seems like yesterday life was at a much slower pace, and as I write this, in what seems like a blink of an eye it’s roughly 16 hours until the first day of official practice for the first 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series event.
As a competitor there is so much I feel I need to prepare for, with back-to-back events scheduled to begin the season and the fisheries being very different fisheries. I’ve spent today preparing rods and tackle for both events because there will be very little time between these first two tournaments.
We’re starting out on the St. Johns River. After I'll immediately point the Reaction Innovations rig north and drive about nine hours — right past my house — to Dayton, Tenn. When I get there — hopefully a day late for practice ‘cause I made the Top 10 in Palatka — I will literally take 80% of the gear that I used on the St. Johns out of my boat and replace it with a completely different set of Kistler Rods and tackle for Lake Chickamauga.
This kind of turnaround between events reminds me of a story from my early days in my career fishing pro tournaments. When my son Jacob was 16, I let him enter a tournament that I was fishing as a co-angler. He practiced with me from sun up to sun down and fished all the days of competition. After the tournament was over, we were talking about the week and what he had learned, and he made a comment that still sticks with me today. When I try to tell people about this crazy sport, all I have to do is tell them this story. Jacob was exhausted and completely worn out at the end of the event. He looked at me and said, “Dad, it’s not that the days on the water are so long, but the nights are so short!”
Unknowingly, my 16 year old probably gave the best description of this sport that we love in one sentence. And, for all of you that follow it, just know how much the next month of our lives is going to feel like this. Long days on the water, followed by short nights of sleep trying to refresh for the next day’s work, are going to be the norm.
For all of you, the fans, the next five weeks should be very exciting to watch. The first two regular season events have the potential to be giant fish beatdowns followed two weeks later by the 50th Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala. While these first few weeks of the season are going to be a grind, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let’s get these short nights going; I got work to do.