I was like a little kid in a candy store the first time I attended a Bassmasters Elite Series Tournament. I compared it to the excitement and exhilaration I had felt as a teenager when attending a rock concert, or a major league baseball game as a youngster, or maybe even Disney world…with the smells of hot asphalt mixed with funnel cakes…and fish? What a spectacle it was…and an inspiration. I am sure I was not alone in the crowd of thousands of spectators dreaming of crossing the Elite Series stage one day with a heavy bag of bass. Watching all of those anglers who had always been my heroes on Saturday morning television come to the scales one after another was so exciting and intriguing, and made an everlasting impact on my life…and my family.
Bass fishing and tournament angling have become an enormous part of my life since that day. Each year I strive harder to make it to the big leagues of bass fishing with 2010 going to be my first full time season on the Bassmaster Open Series Tournament Trail. With this quest comes an incredible inundation of “fishing stuff” as my wife would put it, from never ending boxes of fishing baits arriving at the door, to countless hours out on the road and out on the water, to late nights in the garage preparing for the next event, to my inability to stop talking “fishing” for only a half hour to my wife during long trips in the truck as she has pointed out. It is all very time consuming and hard work and I love every minute of it. I am truly blessed to be able to pursue my dreams with a great supportive team behind me…my wife, kids, the rest of my family, and the good Lord above. Weigh ins, boat ramps, and marinas have become a common part of my twelve year old daughter Alyssa’s life. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than looking out from the weigh in stage and seeing her right there, camera in hand, watching intently to see whats in the bag that day. Or watching her push her way through hundreds of full grown men or sneeking around flimsy security barriers on that quest to get that special autograph from Skeet, or Ike, or KVD.
I have had several opportunities to fish with my family members this year and I can’t tell you enough what an enjoyment it has been for me. Most of the time while tournament fishing or preparing for tournament fishing you become so focused on the details necessary to enable you to be successful…and forget to smell the roses along the journey. I have had several outings with family members this season where I was able to wipe off the serious face and just go fishin’…and I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Many times I have put down my rod and just enjoyed watching my wife or little girl catch fish from the back of the boat. I think I sometimes get more excited seeing them catch a fish than when I land a kicker hog in a tournament. I have been able to take fishing outings with my dad, my wife, my daughter, my father-in-law, the preacher, and more this year…and I have stories to last a lifetime from each trip. I have also had some great draws in my tournaments that were very educational as well as the beginnings of new friendships.
Wow! What a sport! I personally can’t think of a better way to spend some good quality time with a loved one. I want to encourage all of you to take some time to take someone you care about fishing. Whether you are a nose to the grindstone tournament angler or a weekend perch jerker…make some time to take someone along with you. Fishing truly is a great sport, profession, past time, hobby, therapy, or whatever place it fills in your life. God bless and see you all on the lake.