With my win at the 2020 Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open at Lake Hartwell, I’m officially in the 2021 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic on Lake Ray Roberts as long as I fish all four Eastern Opens, which I will definitely do. That means a lot to me.
I’m currently sitting 27th in the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings so I would have a good chance to get in even without the win, but you never know. This is professional bass fishing at its highest level. It’s always possible that you’ll have two or three bad days in the final tournaments. That’s all it takes at this level to drop like a rock in the standings. And, there’s never a guarantee that you won’t get hurt or get sick.
The insurance this win gives me is welcome. It’ll allow me to fish a little more freely for the rest of the year, and if something bad happens I’ll still go to the Classic.
The fact that this opens up another spot for another angler is nice, too. However, let’s be honest. This is an individual sport so what we’re all worried about is our own position in it. Nevertheless, it gives you a good feeling to be able to help someone else.
The money matters, too. My wife, Emily, and I were going to build a house this year, but with the astronomical increases in material prices we decided to keep what we already have and add on to it. That was the better financial decision for us. The winnings will help us do that.
Now, let’s talk a little about the tournament. I was having a good event going into the third and final day. That was kind of a surprise to me. I didn’t expect to be leading after the second day. I didn’t think I had the weight to be at the top. I did, though, and so when I saw what was happening on Friday morning I knew a win was a possibility.
The weather was awful. Rain and wind that made conditions really tough. I knew that the fish would be scattered and that I’d have to move around to catch them. But, I’m not afraid of tough. I’ve had success on herring based forage lakes in the past so I felt like I knew how to handle things.
It was a confidence thing. We all have confidence in our ability to compete and be successful in this business. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Self-doubt doesn’t get it in the Bassmaster Elite Series.
At the same time, though, you have to be realistic. No matter your skill level or your confidence level you’re going to come up short most of the time. That’s the brutal reality.
In the end I have to say that I’m thankful for the win on a number of different levels. It makes my life, Emily’s life and our lives together easier. How can that be anything other than good?