First off let me say thanks to everyone who has inquired about how things are after the hurricane. All we’ve had is some chainsaw work here at our house. Our son had a tree fall on his house, but we’re able to deal with that. We’re blessed and thankful for it.
And yes, I’ve thought about this year. Who wouldn’t? There’s no sugarcoating it. As best I can remember it was the toughest year I’ve ever had as a professional angler. And, although I’ve thought about it I really can’t put my finger on any one thing that caused it.
It’s especially disappointing to have a year like this after I qualified for the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’s Sporting Goods. There’s nothing like a Classic. I regret that I won’t be fishing the one next year.
There were a few times when I lost fish that would have put me over the first cut. I’d have done a little better and made a check but there were other times when things just fell apart, they just didn’t happen. It’s that simple. The year started tough. It ended tough.
It’d be nice to list the things I’ll do different next year, but it’s hard to do that when you don’t know what you did wrong. I do have a few ideas for next year, though. The first one is that I’m going to spend a lot more time in preparation.
Going into this next year I intend to spend a lot more time on the computer and studying maps. That’ll help, and so will the new rules that will be in affect. The lack of outside information will help those of us who don’t get a lot of it.
I’m going to prefish, too. I’m talking about before the lakes go offlimits. For a while now I haven’t done that. All I’ve done is show up for the official practice and then go with what I learned in the tournament. The days when that’s enough are over.
You have to put everything you have into every cast if you’re going to be competitive, and that has to continue through every minute of the day. The age thing is a part of that. It’s not as easy to stay excited and to be up at 100 percent as it once was. But these young guys are doing that so I have to do it.
Beyond that, I’m not really going to change things much. I’ve had a good, solid career doing what I do so I don’t really see where any other changes are necessary.
I’ve always said that when I feel that I can no longer be competitive I’ll retire. I don’t feel that way now. I’m going to put my head down and go to work. I know — being honest with myself — that I can still compete at this level, and I intend to keep doing it.
It’s time to end this. I still have some packing to do for the last Bass Pro Shops Southern Open on Smith Lake. I love it. Those big spots are fun to catch, and I’ve always caught a few really big stripers. You can’t help but laugh when you bring one of them towards the boat.
So here’s how it is: A tough season isn’t the end of things. It’s just a tough season. I’m excited about 2018, and I’m looking forward to resetting the deck.