Why I came back

As look at my first season back on the Bassmaster Elite Series after taking a couple years off, I definitely can’t complain. I’ve made the cut five times, finished in the Top 10 at three of those events, and after placing third at Guntersville, I’m sitting sixth in Bassmaster Angler of the Year points.

The only thing about having a good start to the season is I’m a little disappointed that I had the rough spot in the middle. But in fishing, you often come up a little disappointed.

All in all, it’s been a great year, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s definitely been fun for me. I’ve enjoyed what I’m doing, and it’s great to be back. I guess you could say it’s like riding a bike; I just got right back into it.

I will say that I feel like theres been a lot of eyeballs on me. As far as the pressure, I feel like I’ve had the most pressure on me ever. 

That being said, it’s good being back on the Elites with a different group of guys. It feels totally different, but it’s pretty cool because I get to know them a little better every tournament.

Also, I’m fishing under new Tournament Director Lisa Talmadge. Even though she’s herding cats, she’s doing a fine job of it.

And that goes for everyone involved in B.A.S.S. tournament management. Everything has been running really smooth, even though we’ve had a lot of challenges — postponements, bad weather and floods.

We’ve had a lot of things that haven’t gone as planned, but our tournaments have all run smoothly. We came back strong the year after the pandemic, and we’re going to finish the year exactly when we were scheduled. I don’t think you could ask for anymore.

I think all of these things working together has promoted consistency. That’s how I managed to finish third at Guntersville — I pretty much caught within a half a pound of the exact same bag of fish every day. 

That wasn’t an easy thing to do because, even though Guntersville is a great lake, we had bad fishing conditions. We had super nice weather for a tournament, but that was not the weather we needed.

It may sound odd, but we needed some bad weather. The water is so clear now, the TVA wasn’t pulling any current in the lake and there were fish scattered from 10 inches of water to 30 feet of water. 

With tough conditions keeping the weight down, I ended up catching the majority of my fish by targeting shade. While this was definitely one of our tougher events due to conditions, Guntersville is still awesome. It’s full of fish, and it’s probably going to be a good year for the fish.

Another lake I have my eye on is Lake Hartwell. It’s not on our schedule this year, but this South Carolina lake will host next year’s Bassmaster Classic.

If I’m fortunate enough to close out this Elite season inside the Classic cut, I’m going spend as much time as possible on Lake Hartwell this fall. I want to make sure I’m ready to fish my first Classic since 2018.

After all, that’s why I came back.