It’s been six months since Anna and I had our first child – our son Huck – and this season of the Bassmaster Elite Series has been really different for me because of it. He’s really changed my life. Honestly, I don’t worry as much about the fishing anymore. Huck has been such a blessing and has brought things back into focus for me. I’m so thankful that I don’t get too caught up in worrying too much about anything else, and that’s been very good for my fishing.
I’ve thought about it, and now I recognize that I used to worry whether I was going to catch them, what’ll happen if I don’t catch them, qualifying for the Classic and stuff like that. This season, between having Huck and being happy about all the changes at B.A.S.S., it all feels so much better. I’m having so much more fun under the new B.A.S.S. leadership and with the new group of Elite Series guys, it’s been a really refreshing year. It’s fun, it’s low-stress, and I think the results show that.
I’m coming off a third-place finish at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, which was my second third in the past three events — I finished third at Hartwell. I’m currently sixth in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) race. The race isn’t something I think about much, or worry about. I just want to stay up there close to the top and finish the year out strong. And I think my position right now shows how much more relaxed and focused I am this season.
Having Huck has changed some of my road life, but that should be back to normal soon. Anna has always traveled with me, but she hasn’t been able to come to the past few events because of doctor appointments. And it’s just not an easy trip with a little baby for all the obvious reasons.
I’ve already noticed how much more I like it when they’re with me. Honestly, if they couldn’t travel with me, I’m not sure if I could do this anymore. If I had to go back to traveling by myself all the time, I’m not sure what I’d do. I can’t imagine what it was like for pros years ago without the technology we have today – weeks or a month without seeing a new picture or anything.
When I’m away, I’m still talking to my family all the time, and I get pictures throughout the day. Each of those pictures is a reminder of how thankful I am for all the good things in my life, no matter how bad the fishing might be at the moment.
Like any pro, I get asked about whether I plan to raise my son as a fisherman, or whether I think about that. My answer is this: I like the idea of him loving to fish, and taking him out in the boat and stuff like that. But I know from seeing other people and their kids, you can’t force them to love what they love. You just need to take whatever they enjoy and try to enable them to follow and do what they love.
My parents were very supportive and helped my brother and I chase what we wanted when we were kids. And we both got to do what we wanted. I’m fishing the Elite Series. My brother loved baseball, and he was drafted by the Giants out of high school and played at Auburn.
I’ve seen and experienced what good parenting and support can do. And that’s what I want to do for Huck, within reason of course.