Reflection and analysis

Now that the 2018 fishing season is winding down, it’s time for reflection and analysis. It’s a time to look at what went right and what went wrong, and I feel like the best place for me to do that is in the woods.

Like a lot of fishermen, I enjoy the fall hunting season because it’s a peaceful break from the demanding pace of tournament fishing. My dad and I have a lease that’s right across from my house in Collinsville, Miss., so that makes it easier to hunt locally.

I’ve enjoyed deer hunting for a lot of years, but nowadays, I get more enjoyment out of taking my nephews who are 4 and 10. With both of them, this time we spend in the woods is a good opportunity to pass along the important lessons that have enabled me to enjoy this great sport. I remember when I was that age how important it was for someone to take me hunting or fishing.

The older boy has a lot more focus, and he’d been wanting to kill one for a long time. Last year, I was finally able to get him in position to kill one on the coldest morning of the season. I actually had him wrapped up in a sleeping bag, but that was a day neither one of us will ever forget.

This year, between my family trips, I’ll sneak off by myself several times and think about the 2018 fishing season and the things I need to work on. I’d say the biggest concern I had was inconsistency. I’m normally much more consistent in my performance; that’s how I made it to the Elite Series and got to where I’m at in my career.

Realistically, I just didn’t have the consistency I needed in 2018. Even in the Opens, I finished high in the points and qualified for the Championship, but it seemed like I’d catch them one day but not catch them the next.

This is something I’ll be working on for 2019. A big part of the offseason is preparation for the following year, so I’ll be spending a good amount of time figuring out what factors and decisions led to my inconsistency and then working hard to correct those things.

Maybe that’s the college baseball player in me reminding me how I would spend so much time and effort reviewing my performance, identifying the good and the bad and then working to improve what I could change. When you’re batting, six or seven times out of 10, you get out. So, you reflect on what didn’t work and what you did wrong.

I do the same thing in fishing. I reflect on my decision making, identify what I could have done differently and then I work hard to make the necessary changes.

Now, speaking of change, my life is about to see the biggest change I’ve ever experienced — and I can’t wait. My wife Leslie and I will soon welcome our first child, Millie James. Her due date is Thanksgiving Day, so that’s going to make this year incredibly memorable.

One thing’s for sure: This offseason will be very different for me. I’ll probably be changing a lot of diapers and getting a lot less sleep, but I’m very excited for this new addition to our family.