Biggest adjustments for Elite Series

With the first two events of my rookie Bassmaster Elite Series season behind me and the next two coming up shortly, I can say that the biggest adjustment, besides the travel, has been just keeping my nerves in check. I’m thrilled to be fishing on the biggest stage I’ve ever fished on, but the excitement, anticipation and pressure are all things I’m learning to manage.

Going into those first two events on Lake Okeechobee and Lake Seminole, it was definitely nerve racking. Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I’m ready to settle in and really get the year started.

The key for me is remembering to enjoy this journey, because making it to this top level has always been the goal. I’ve fished from the front of the boat for 12 years, but this is the hardest competition I’ve ever fished against. There’s a ton of pressure.

I also put a ton of pressure on myself, but I’ve finally made it to a goal I’ve had for much of my life. I don’t want to miss out on this experience. I don’t want the pressure to overshadow that.

One thing that’s been helpful is the friendly, welcoming interaction I’ve had with my fellow Elites. Everybody I’ve talked to has been super friendly. Everyone has congratulated me for making it and encouraged me to enjoy the season.

I can say that making the check cut in both of my first two Elite tournaments was encouraging. Going into those first couple of events, I had no idea what I was in for. On top of that, Florida can really get you off to a rough start if you let it. To get out of both of those events unscathed, I’m absolutely happy with that.

Going forward, I’m going to focus on trusting myself. I know I can compete at this level, I just have to make sure I stick with my game and do it my way.

Growing up on the West Coast, I feel like I bring a lot of skills that will help me on the Elite Series. Western anglers really breathe versatility because of the diverse fisheries we have, and I think that has allowed me to build a solid foundation for my Elite career.

Coming from the West Coast, I have a high comfort level with pretty much all techniques. You really couldn’t pick a schedule that’s more diverse than we have this year, and I feel like I’ll have something for each event.

Steady performance is going to be very important for me, because my main goal this season is to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. That’s going to require a lot of consistency, so that’s what I’ll focus on as much as possible.

As far as my travel plans, I’m driving to the next event at Lake Murray and my then boat and truck won’t see my garage again until we finish up at the St. Lawrence River in August. Thankfully, I have buddies scattered throughout the country, and they’re nice enough to take care of my rig.

As the year continues, when we have a gap between events, I’ll fly home, see the family, then get back at it. I’ll enjoy every minute at home, but I’ll also enjoy every minute on the Elite Series.

This has been my dream for a long time and now I’m living it.