While itching to get back to competition, many Bassmaster Elite Series anglers quarantined due to COVID-19 have found there’s no place like home.
The final day of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk was two months ago, and it’s been three months since the full field fished the St. Johns River Elite. While social distancing to prevent the disease’s spread has presented hardship, a number of Elites report some positives in their long wait.
“We’ve had tons of silver linings as far as the pandemic of the century is concerned,” said ever-optimistic Chad Pipkens, holed up in Lansing, Mich., with wife Melanie and newborn Emerie. “It couldn’t have been better timing for us.”
Along with increased time to bond with his baby girl, Pipkens was able to get a lot of work done moving into a new home, which Elites Chris Zaldain and Drew Cook also did during the break. The Pipkens had a home built with a huge garage, aka mancave, and he was able to do things like build shelves and paint. They were able to move into it, then Pipkens fixed up their old house and rented it.
“It’s been crazy, but the timing has been perfect,” he said. “I don’t know how it would have got done otherwise. We would have had to cram all that into a week, and that just would have been tough. I’d probably be going crazy. If we would have got stuck in the other house with the baby, it would have been harder — couldn’t have worked, can’t paint.”
So Pipkens, who worked in construction and had a painting company before his fishing career, completed a ton of projects and still got plenty of family time.
“I’ve been spending every morning and night with the baby, and that’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s a cool time, with her growing every day.”
With Michigan’s no-motor restrictions for a while, Pipkens is just getting back to fishing and hopes it won’t take long to get his mojo back. He was 29th in the three-day St. Johns event and wishes he could get a redo on the Classic, where he was a disappointing 48th.