Getting prepared for the big show

The Bassmaster Classic is finally here. This is what we worked for all last year. This is the big show.

The work is done in my head, and all the prep is done from the boat maintenance, to the tackle prep to the map study and Google Earth study. I left my home with no distractions so I can focus all my energy and attention on this event.

I arrived in Knoxville with a game plan already in my head, and I made sure all the business side of the Classic week was thought out. That includes everything from the clothes I’ll wear for Night of Champions to making sure my family and friends got there and got set up. I made sure all of the stuff outside of the fishing is good to go for the week.

During practice, I tried to stick to a good game plan of covering water, not catching my fish, but at the same time, paying attention to where I got my biggest bites.

There’s a million different thoughts that go through my head: How am I going to manage what I found in practice and pretty much a week later catch the same fish? Are the fish going to move back? Are they going to move out? Am I going to run out of fish?

With our three days of practice way before the tournament and then one official practice day of practice on Wednesday, then a day off, a lot changes this time of year. With a cold front before the Classic, there are many different factors you have to look at.

Mentally, I know I’ve gotten all the outside variables taken care of. That’s going to be huge once the tournament begins because I’ll be able to fish without distractions.

I’m fishing good right now. I started the Elite season with two good finishes, and I won a big regional tournament in Texas a couple weeks ago, so my confidence is at an all-time high.

I’m going to fish my strengths. I’m not going to do anything outside of my realm. Even if I think it might be the deal, I’m going to keep the rods and baits I like in my hand, and as the tournament goes on, I’ll just try to develop new patterns. That’s all I can control.

It’s good to know that whatever happens, I’ll have a lot of family and friends there to support me; some of them are bringing boats to follow me on the water. I want them all to know how much this means to me and how much I want them to also enjoy this event.

I have new walkout music this year, and it really resonates with me. I’m walking out to Whiskey Myers’ “The Wolf.”

It’s literally about doing your job, defending your family and doing everything you gotta do for your family. That’s me all the way, so this song means a lot to me.

Along those lines, what I’m looking forward to the most is just having my wife and our daughter, Lane, there to experience this with me. Lane will have her first birthday the week after the Classic, and even though she won’t remember this week, we’ll have lots of pictures to show her someday.

I have a picture in my office of me holding her onstage after I won the Bassmaster Open on Ross Barnett last year. When she sees that picture, she recognizes herself and she smiles and giggles.

I’m looking forward to making more memories with her at the Bassmaster Classic.