There’s no doubt 2019 was the best year of my life. As a blue-collar kid from Kentucky who has spent his childhood and teenage years consumed by dreams of being a professional angler, competing as the Carhartt College Series representative at the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville back in March was the epitome of dreams coming true.
I’ll share two experiences in particular with you from this past year that I’ll treasure the rest of my life, and no surprise, the first one occurred at the Bassmaster Classic.
It was Day 1 of the biggest event in bass fishing, all the cold rainy practice days, media interviews and pre-game hoopla was finished. Thousands of fans lined the riverfront in the predawn to watch us blast off, and as if that wasn’t awesome enough, seconds later I found myself running nearly 70 mph down the Tennessee River alongside guys like Kevin VanDam and Jordan Lee.
It was the equivalent of a kid from the Friday night dirt track running 200 mph in the Daytona 500 against Truex and Earnhardt. I will never forget that feeling.
The second great memory I’ll forever hold close from the past year is the repeated number of very humbling experiences I have had courtesy of high school anglers. They recognize me at the boat ramp, gas stations or wherever, and tell me they look up to me. Man, I gotta tell ya, it kind of leaves me speechless sometimes, because it’s only been five years since I was in their shoes. Hopefully, I’ve set a great example for them.
I also hope the two lures I’m about to discuss for winter fishing will help both high school anglers and all who read this catch more bass from cold water.
The first thing I’ll tell you is clear water is pretty darn essential to successful cold water bass fishing. I like to be able to see a lure flash at least 3-feet under the surface. And the second critical piece to the cold water fishing puzzle is making sure once you launch on your favorite clear water river or reservoir, that you’re seeing plenty of bait on your sonar.
Once on the water, I’m typically looking at my sonar and GPS mapping to locate underwater creek channel swings next to visible bluff walls, or finding long underwater points next to a river or creek channel swing. But again, it’s key to make sure there’s plenty of baitfish around.
Once I’m around plenty of shad, two lures get most of the work in my boat, and I throw both of them on spinning tackle. One is a little 1/8-ounce Cumberland Pro Lures Pro Spin, and the other is a Damiki head or ball head with a Berkley MaxScent Flatnose Minnow rigged on it.
If there’s a little wind, I favor the Pro Spin, because the winter breezes tend to push the bait a little more shallow, up in the 20- to 30-feet deep zone, and that’s when the spinner tends to do best. But if it’s one of those sunny, calm, pretty winter days, you’d better look deeper for fish, like 30- to 60-feet deep – and that’s where the Flatnose Minnow shines best.
In closing, I hope you’ve got plenty of Carhartt gear to keep you warm on the water this winter, and mostly I want each of you who have taken time to follow me this year to know how truly grateful and genuinely humbled I’ve been by all your amazing support.