As I write this, it's been just a few days since they handed me the 2021 Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy, and I haven’t had a chance to fully celebrate it yet. I would have thrown a party on Saturday night after winning, but several of my best friends were still in the hunt at the St. Lawrence River. They wouldn’t have wanted to stay long, and it wouldn’t have been the same without them. ICAST starts on Wednesday after the tournament, so between the end of the tournament and driving home, the short window for an immediate party is closing.
That’s OK. In a few weeks we’ll have a party at a bar called The Doublewide near home in New Market, and we’ll be able to let loose a bit. Right now I’m just going to breathe.
The feeling that I got at the Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River was partially one of achievement, but that was really just overshadowed by the sense of relief. The title was mine to lose, and it had been that way for quite a while. If I’d come from behind it might’ve felt different, but at times I had the sensation that I was hanging on for dear life. When I caught a 4-pounder 20 minutes into Day 2, that’s when I finally allowed myself to accept that I’d be taking home the trophy.
We have a mantel that’s 8 or 10 feet long, and until now the trophy from when I won at St. Clair has been pretty lonely up there. Now it’ll have some company, with plenty of space for more hardware. I’ll never take this one for granted, and I know that a lot has to go right to claim a title, but now that I have this I want a second one. There are a fair number of anglers who have one of these, but not many who have more than one. I’d like to add a Classic trophy too.
Before I get ahead of myself, I need to thank all of the sponsors, friends and family members who’ve been in my corner and encouraged me all along. Just a few short years ago, I was broke and on the verge of leaving the sport.
Now my confidence is higher than ever, and with the passage of time I’ve been able to develop my skills down south to the point where I’m consistently competitive. I expected St. Johns and Sabine to be my potential stumbling blocks in 2021, but I finished third and sixth at those two events. I didn’t just dodge bullets. I found a way to turn the events to my advantage.
I suppose this will all really sink in after ICAST, when I get a chance to think back on the little decisions and moments throughout the season that made a huge difference. Right now the only person who knows what she wants out of the AOY title is my oldest daughter Rose. She’s been telling us for weeks that she wants a “rainbow cake.” I don’t know if she means the frosting or the insides or something else, but we’ll make it happen. Each member of the family earned a share of this title along with me.
At the end of the 2019 season, I told everybody that I was going to kill a bunch of greenheads and get my wife pregnant. I made good on that promise, and it sounds like a pretty good plan for this offseason as well. We’ll probably wait until January to try to have another kid, but it’s definitely on the table.
With two healthy girls already here, we’d love to have a boy. I tried all of the tricks I could find on the internet to make that happen on the last one and ended up with a girl, so I’m pretty sure that no matter what I do it’ll be another girl. That’s more than OK with me though.
Things are going pretty well in my life. I have a lot of things to be thankful for and a lot to celebrate.