All throughout my career, fans have been a constant source of motivation and encouragement for me. This truth was never more clear to me than during my time at the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.
This event was special for several reasons. First, I’m officially a Bassmaster now, which is awesome. I feel very proud to be part of the organization and to have participated in the 50th anniversary of an event that is so rich in history.
Being there at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo and visiting with the fans was an incredible experience. We had a ton of great response, I signed thousands of autographs and took thousands of photos with the fans and had a lot of opportunity to hear direct feedback from the people who support professional bass fishing.
Probably the most memorable part of this experience was so many people looking me in the eyes and saying: “I’m so glad you’re part of Bassmaster now.” So many fans were really appreciative of that.
The other thing that was really meaningful to me was to be able to be on Bassmaster LIVE with Mark Zona, Tommy Sanders and Davy Hite. That was my first time on the show, so it was awesome to sit on that stage and do the live commentary.
I think all this has given me great enthusiasm for the new chapter in my career. I’m very thankful for the growth and success I enjoyed during my time with FLW, and I feel that I’m revitalized with the new challenges that lie ahead.
I’ve always been a goal-oriented person and now that I’m fully committed to B.A.S.S., I have big goals of winning an Open, I have big goals of winning an Elite Series event and I have the ultimate goals of winning a Bassmaster Classic and the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title.
When I think about the objectives I’ve laid out for the coming years, it reminds me of when I first started fishing when I said, “I want to accomplish these things in my career.” I was very successful in reaching those goals and now, with a new set of goals ahead, it’s given me a nice pep in my step and a very big focus on fishing hard and doing well.
As we go forward, fans can expect tons of great content, tons of interaction and tons of encouragement and guidance for the next generation of anglers that we’re bring up through the Bassmaster ranks. With so many talented young fishermen coming up through the high school and college fishing programs, I feel a big personal responsibility to educate the next generation how to do things the right way and how to grow the sport.
As this year continues to unfold, I’m looking forward to fishing several new destinations for the first time and competing against anglers I haven’t competed against over the years. People have asked me which event I’m most looking forward to and I would say the last two, just because that’s where it all culminates. I have to perform throughout the year, but those last two events are going to be special in a lot of ways.
It’s going to be a hard road; it’s not going to be easy. But I daydream a lot about standing on stage in some of those last couple of events and accomplishing what I’ve set out to do.
To fans who’ve known me for many years, I say, “Thank you for your support.” For those who are getting to know me, I’m excited to show you my work ethic and passion for the sport.