Offseason? Not so ‘off’

It’s November, the tournament season is behind us, and it’s darn good to be home for a while.

It was a long season and a good one, but I hadn’t been home for a full week since May.

I was so glad to change from the inconsistent and sometimes lumpy VRBO beds and get back to my Bedgear mattress, sheets and pillows at home. You have no idea what a good night’s sleep is until you collapse on materials designed to keep you cool.

It’s also nice to have weekends off, reconnect with friends and get back to a normal schedule.

That doesn’t mean I’ve taken the winter off. While we may not be fishing tournaments, the job as a bass pro never ends; it’s a matter of switching gears.

Once I got home I began doing client trips for sponsors, fundraiser trips that I donated and shooting short videos to provide more content. The key to keeping sponsors happy is to provide value to them year-round.

And then there is my equipment; the boat and truck must be unwrapped and all the decals removed for next year’s sponsorships. I have to unload all of my tackle and gear from the boat and move it into the house before the boat is sold.

Once I have my gear inside, I can work on reorganizing everything for next year.

And that is a long, tedious process. I go through about 30 rods and reels, determine which ones need to be repaired or updated and place my order for new stuff with Swate, my rod sponsor, and Garcia, my reel sponsor. I examine all of my tackle trays and eliminate those that are worn and need to be replaced.

It’s a critical time to tighten up the tackle by reducing or eliminating those lures that I may have overstocked or didn’t use. I don’t need 50 colors of the same bait and realistically, fish with the same basic colors every year. So, by reducing tackle I improve boat organization and that makes me more efficient on the water. It’s not something easily done when on tour.

Of course, a lot of time is consumed working on new contracts with 2020 sponsors, determining their level of participation, etc. For example, I spent an entire day measuring space on my boat for sponsor logos to determine what is available for them next season.

Jerseys and the new Bass Cat Suzuki must get ordered quickly, and I need sponsor obligations nailed down before mid-December. My first Bassmaster Open is in January, and I want my boat and vehicle wrapped and everything done well before then.

I’m also tightening up next year’s Elite schedule, booking my travel accommodations and trying to schedule time to pre-practice Santee Cooper and Eufaula, two lakes I know little about.

When my new Cat arrives, I will drive it down to Lake Drive Marina in Coldwater, Mich., and have them rig it with all of my equipment. Even though Lake Drive doesn’t sell Bass Cats or Suzuki Outboards, I have them do the rigging because they do such a great job.

During all this fishing preparation I’m doing other work to help plan for the possible highs and lows. No one else is planning for my future, so it’s important to recognize that fishing may not last forever, and I may need other irons in the fire. I keep busy running a small paint company and building/maintaining rental properties.

Gotta love the grind!

So yeah, there’s a season away from tournaments and you get to spend time at home. But to be prepared properly and treat it like a business, there really isn’t an “offseason” for a pro angler.