Winning the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Lay Lake means the world to me. To do it in front of my home crowd, my family and the anglers who fish tournaments around here is something special I will cherish for the rest of my life.
I am very blessed. I haven’t finished reading the texts from people who have reached out to congratulate me yet. I felt so accomplished winning on my home lake. I have spent so many summers on Lay Lake and fished Tuesday nighters, Saturday events, Sunday events and have covered every inch of the lake. To put in all that time, it feels good to know it paid off at the highest level.
I always hoped to win an Elite within my first two years of fishing. But in the back of my mind, I knew I also may never win one. Some of the best in the world have never won an Elite event.
I shot American Skeet growing up, and I shot in the world championship and against Olympic competitors. That helped me mentally keep things together. Shooting sports are a lot like fishing. When it is time to step up to the station or the trolling motor, you better keep it together because you only have so much time to get it done.
It was also special to take the win using baits made by my dad’s company — Davis Bait Company. All of his baits, he spends multiple hours perfecting each one, and he is going to make sure it is right. For him to spend the time to take me fishing, he’s a great father. He showed me the ropes, and he was very patient with me. You add that with the great lures he made, and you hit a home run.
I hope this brings him all the business he can stand. I’ve seen him go through a lot of hard times in business and a lot of great times. To see him work so hard, I want the best for him. I finally got to this level, and it is time for me to put him up there on a pedestal.
The two baits I used the most were a Davis Bait Company Shaky Worm in green pumpkin rigged on a 3/16-ounce Little Wills Series Shaky Worm Head and a new Davis Xswim Fat Minnow rigged on a 1/2-ounce Davis Shaky Fish head.
The shaky head in particular catches big bass. On Day 2, I caught a 5-9 largemouth on that shaky head. It is something I should keep in my hand more in these other tournaments. I caught them at Lake Murray on the same setup when they weren’t schooling. It is a deadly tool I keep in the boat. You just get caught up in wanting to catch them quicker.
The win meant more to me coming from behind like that. It hit harder that way and made it great for B.A.S.S and the fan base. It didn’t make it too great for the family, who were all about to have a heart attack. It showed me that you don’t give up. You keep on pecking along, and when it is God’s time, it is going to happen.
The ride back to Beeswax Park on Championship Sunday was the only time I thought I would have a shot at winning. That last 45 minutes, I pulled in a creek and took out a floating jerkbait and caught a big one. That was the moment I knew I would have the opportunity to win. I have a couple boulders in the river that I always catch one big one off this time of year. They reload, but it takes all day. In this tournament, it took two days to catch fish off of them.
It has been a wild ride to get where I am. To get to the Elite Series, I had to do well at several different lakes in the state of Alabama. My next goal is to win one out of the state, and I feel like I am capable of doing that. I had a great shot at Okeechobee, I just had a few key fish that I lost. Then at Seminole, I had a bad second day.
I am also leading the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race. Maintaining that throughout the rest of the season is also a top priority.