Everything happens for a reason

As long as I’ve been competing in tournaments, I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs. I’ve cashed a lot of checks, fallen on my face and won tournaments. I’ve also become a husband, a dad and a friend. No matter what, I have relationships and responsibilities that have nothing to do with how I perform on the water.

It’s easy to get down when a bad event happens, and since I won at Pickwick Lake a couple of seasons ago, I’ve seen more downs than ups. But my outlook on life — and something a dear friend and mentor told me — have helped when things don’t look so bright.

Some of you have heard my story about my friend and tournament partner Billy Backman, who took up with the wrong crowd and passed away suddenly, and how Billy’s family helped me get my start in professional fishing. For the sake of space, I’m not going to go over the story, but you can read it in this article written earlier by Steve Wright.

After losing Billy, and just seeing how life works in general, I’ve always lived my life with an attitude of “things happen for a reason.” The past two years, I’ve missed qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic. While I would rather be fishing, I’ve had people stop me and share very emotional stories. These moments made me realize these people were the reasons I was supposed to be working the Bassmaster Classic Expo.

I also remember one of the things that my friend and mentor Denny Brauer told me during a tough stretch: “You gotta have a lot of bad tournaments to have a few good ones.” That statement has stuck with me. Denny is a true legend who is one of the best to play this game, and he understood how it all fit together — even during bad events.

I’ve spent a lot of time in this game and seen a lot of things. I’ve seen a lot of my friends back home have a series of bad events and tell me, “I’m gonna sell everything and get out. I’m terrible!” I’ve heard the same from some of our competitors out here on tour. They feel the same way at times.

I’m not saying that I don’t understand it. We’re professional anglers, and we are supposed to catch fish for a living. So, when our living requires us to perform, and we don’t, it takes a toll on us as people. But, while we are supposed to analyze and make improvements, I try to stop at some point with the understanding that another event with more opportunities is just around the corner.

When I have a bad event, I will spend some of my time driving down the road thinking about the event and the things I could have down differently. But that’s only for a while. I have to remember that I have Jen and the kids with me, and that I’m a husband, a dad and a friend. There are other parts of my life.

With all of that in mind, I’ve got some work to do in the last few events of the year to make it to the 2024 Bassmaster Classic. I’m going to take my time and pre-practice for the events coming up. I’m going to work hard and do the best I can to be in position to do well.

But, even with preparation and doing everything I can, I’ll try to remember that things happen for a reason. I’ll look ahead to the next one. It’s not a license to make excuses, but it’s a perspective that helps me realize how fortunate I am.