The kid in me

With the holidays behind me that old restless feeling is kicking in, and the competitor in me is starting to awaken. It’s almost like there’s an internal clock or switch that gets flipped and the adrenaline starts flowing, and I can’t wait to be sitting in my boat.

I’m getting excited to launch and hear my name called on the first morning of the first day of the 2020 season at the St. Johns River in Palatka.

The offseason has allowed my body and mind to rest and reset from the previous year and it’s like everything is new again. A new season with new opportunities and new goals to achieve. 

This fall has kind of been an awakening of the kid in me. Why? Who knows, but sometimes in life the day-to-day stuff of being an adult and doing the things I’m responsible for doing have made me forget why I love what I do. I absolutely love to fish for bass, and I absolutely love fishing bass tournaments.

It seems kind of strange, but now that the crazy 2019 season is behind us, there’s been this odd inner peace in me.

Everything about the 2020 season kind fell into place for me earlier than usual this fall.

Skeeter introduced the new FXR boats in July at the dealer meetings, and in anticipation of the rush of orders surrounding the new models, we were asked to get our orders early. So, my Yamaha SHO powered FXR20 and all of my Humminbird electronics arrived early and were waiting for install.

Along with the product that showed up, all of my sponsor contracts were agreed to and signed early, so I knew what everything was going to look like and could start planning. On top of that, with B.A.S.S. having the 2020 Elite Series schedule out, my campsites and lodging reservations were booked early, so I know where I’m staying, and I can just concentrate on the fishing.

For many years, I’ve kind of felt it necessary to rig my own boats. I really did it for my own peace of mind of knowing where everything is and how it’s connected. But, thanks to Tony and Mary Lumpkin at my home dealership, Bucks Island, and the service manager Angela Britt, I don’t have to do that anymore.  

They let me drop off everything in the hands of Justin Elliot and the rigging department there, and they do a phenomenal job rigging boats, so that too has been removed from my plate.

With everything finished early it left me with a lot of free time to do something I always used to do, fish for the love of it.

So, I did that; I went fishing. I didn’t go because I was preparing for an upcoming tournament or because I was learning a new technique. I fished just because the kid in me loves to fish. Sure, I spent some time on Guntersville scouting for the Bassmaster Classic, but that was work — I barely took out a rod there.

I fished on Neely Henry, I went to Weiss Lake, Logan Martin and I had some stellar days. I caught fish every which kind of way you could think of, but I had some amazing days fishing my little flatsided Fudd crankbait and my Herren 2.0 baits from PH Custom Lures. I actually wore a couple of those baits out because I caught so many fish on ‘em.

I guess I just kinda got to the spot that when the work’s done, I can play. Sometimes it’s real easy to lose the pure passion of why you do what you do, and while the last year has had some tense moments, I’m truly grateful that the “business” part of the fishing is done. I’m fishing like the kid I was when my daddy introduced me to the sport.

In fact, I think that’s enough writing — I’m gonna go grab a rod and go fish in my pond — and love every minute of it, especially if my oldest granddaughter comes with me. I really get to be a kid with them — sorry Candy, but you know you love it.