It’s been a fun and busy offseason

It’s the offseason, and I can’t believe that we’re in 2020. The Bassmaster Elite Series season and the Bassmaster Classic are just around the corner. But, before I get into some of that stuff, I’ll share a few of my offseason highlights thus far.

In October, I spent the weekend at the Cast for Kids event on Lake Guntersville. Jay Yelas has been more than a friend; he has been my roommate and mentor for more than 10 years. Yelas is the vice president of Cast for Kids and has been working with them for many years. The kids that attend these events are children with special needs and disabilities, and they come from local schools and churches.

When I was asked about helping with one of the events, I was definitely on board, even though Yelas warned me that there was some work involved. Months of planning went into it, and until it all happens, you wonder if it’s all going to work well.

I’ve helped with the Cast for Kids events at Guntersville for four years now and will continue for many more. Just seeing the kids’ faces and the joy of their expressions when getting in a boat and experiencing the ride makes it all worth the effort.

People are always saying that it’s so nice of me and how much of a blessing it is to these kids, but after being involved I’ve realized that I’m the one receiving the blessings. I’ve got memories that will never be forgotten. My daughter Taylor attends when she can and helps as a shore volunteer, and she has enjoyed it as well.

Along with Cast for Kids, I spent a lot of time with Dixie and Taylor, went hunting and had friends and family over for dinners, parties and the holidays. Being able to do what I do as a professional angler is something I wouldn’t change. This is a life that I could have only dreamed of, but it definitely takes me away from family and causes me to miss a lot of things. The offseason gives me a chance to spend days and weeks on end making up for those things with my girls.

I spent a lot of time in the woods with Taylor this year. She loves to hunt, but I’m not sure if it’s because she loves the process or because she likes to kill a bigger buck than all of them boys at school. I get to spend a lot of quality time with her while doing it, so I don’t care what the reason is.

She killed a really nice 10-point buck this year, and I got a couple of does myself. It was nice to fill the freezer while spending that time together.

My new Skeeter FXR20 came in before Christmas, and I took it up to Buck’s Island in Southside, Ala., to have Justin Elliott there rig up my Lowrance Ghost, HDS Live units and my Power-Poles. He also replaced the factory jackplate with my 12-inch Bob’s Machine Shop plate, and it’s ready to go.

The FXR has been very impressive so far. It lifts and runs like a Skeeter with an improved ride – which I would have never thought was possible. I can’t wait to put it through its paces in a couple weeks when the season kicks off.

Christmas was amazing. We had family in at different times throughout the week. Dixie’s family came in first, and we fellowshipped and ate and had a great time. I love having people over to our house; I love to cook for everyone. Celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends is amazing.

One really cool thing that happened was that Taylor and the St. Clair County Band got to go to London, England, to be in the New Year’s Day parade. Dixie went along with some other parents as chaperones. They spent the week before the parade rehearsing and seeing sights around London, and they loved it. The parade itself was 3 miles long and was televised here starting at 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day. I got to see my little girl march through the streets of London – that was really cool.

I’ve spent some time working on things around the house, and I really need to thank my buddy Wes Logan for a bunch of help. Wes won the Bassmaster Opens Central Division Angler of the Year title last year and will join us on the Elite Series this year. It’s going to be cool to have him on tour this year; it’s always nice to have a little bit of home out there on the road.

Other than that, I’m getting ready for the first Eastern Open, the two Elite Series events and finally the Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville. We’ll talk more about that stuff in blogs to come.

It’s about time; I’m starting to get that itch to catch a few.

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