Can’t let up this season

I’ll admit, I’m coming into 2023 with some pretty good momentum, but I know that if I’m going to continue, I can’t let up one bit.

I’ve won four events — three Bassmaster Elites, one Bassmaster Open — over the past three seasons. Now all the chatter is, “All you need now is a Bassmaster Classic win and a Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.”

The Classic is obviously something I think about a lot, but AOY — I don’t think about that because I’m more of a swing for the fences type guy. I’m going to usually crash and burn in one or two events a year.

I don’t do it at every event, but there are usually three or four a year where I think, “Okay, I’m on something that feels a little different; I might can win if I swing a little bit.”

Nobody cares who gets second place.

I’ve seen what these Bassmaster Elite Series trophies can do for you in the fishing industry and the sponsor side of it, so I want to keep winning. I might not win for another 20 years, but once you taste it and get a feel for it, you want to keep that ball rolling and stay hungry.

I say that because I’m bringing that hunger to the new season. I won’t lack for motivation, but I’m feeling a little different vibe this year. It’s like everyone is stepping up their game.

I went to Lake Okeechobee and Lake Seminole and mostly just drove around looking. During that time, there were a lot of people pre-practicing. That’s not necessarily anything new; but it just felt like everybody’s a little more serious this year.

The Elites are always competitive, but I’m feeling this is going to be a good year for competition. I’m all in. I’ve been focused on my tackle prep, boat prep, electronics prep and lake study on the computer.

I’m doing everything I can to get ready to compete. Obviously, I want to win another one, whether it’s the Classic or another Elite event. Everybody says the same thing: Once you win one, you want to win another one and another one.

For me, that’s definitely the case.

This season will offer some new opportunities, because the schedule takes us to three or four places I’ve never fished. Even though I’ll be fishing on some new waters this year, I have all the confidence that I can go out there and win again.

I look back at my first Elite win on Chickamauga, a lake I’d never even seen before. And then the Ross Barnett Open last year — I had no experience there. I was fishing against 200 other anglers, but I made the right decisions to win.

This year, I don’t want to fail for the fans, the sponsors or anybody. You have to realize you’re not going to win one every single year — nobody has ever done that. But I definitely plan on going out there to compete, to stay in the Classic and do everything I can to win another one of those trophies.