Is it 2018 yet?

I can’t wait for 2018 to get here. This was a year that I’m really proud of and that I hope to repeat.

The truth is that I was very disappointed in myself after my first two years fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series. I tried to put a good face on it by saying that everyone has a bad year or two during their career. But inside I knew that I wasn’t competitive and that I was a better professional bass angler than my record showed.

The details of how I changed my fishing to help turn things around were discussed in another column. I won’t repeat that here. I will say, however, that I learned firsthand what a lot of the other guys have said. Success brings more success and there’s nothing in your boat as powerful as confidence and a positive mental attitude.

I had four Top 12 finishes this year. I’m proud of that. I’m not bragging about it or arrogant about it, but I am proud of my year. I feel better about myself.

Advice of any kind is not my thing, and for sure not my thing when it comes to fishing. I’m too young for that and a good year doesn’t make for a lifetime of experiences. But if it was my thing, I’d tell everyone that if you aren’t performing up to your abilities the first step is to admit it. Realize that you are in charge of you. Take responsibility for yourself and then develop a plan to change things. 

That’s what I did, and it worked. I’m not saying that every idea you get will be great or that it’ll make things better, but through trial and error you will work things out. And, beyond all else, stay positive. Do not get down on yourself and do not feel sorry for yourself. You can fish to your potiental. Go prove it. 

I don’t know how next year will turn out. But in my mind I’m ready to start right now, today. My attitude is such that I feel I can compete, and I’m willing to prove it anywhere, anytime and under any circumstances.

At the professional level there’s a business side to things as well. If you expect to stay around, you’d better take care of that, too. As much as I wish I could fish tournaments this winter I’m thankful for the offseason. 

I have some changes coming that I’ll announce later, but my main sponsor, Carhartt, will remain the same. They make quality products, and the company is run by quality people. I love working with them. Hopefully I’ll still be with them when I retire. 

One decision I’ve made for next year is a little different, though. At this point I don’t plan on fishing any of the Opens. It’s not them. It’s me. I want to devote all of my time to the Elite Series. It’s just too much to try to fish other tournaments in between them. At least it’s too much for me. I need study time, lake time, tackle preparation time and rest.

I want to say again that I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should do. I don’t have all the answers. I’ve told you about my turnaround and how I did it only because it worked for me so maybe it’ll work as a starting point for someone else.