It’s the middle of February, and in the world of bass fishing, that means Classic time! I’ve had a long and recuperative break between the end of the 2009 regular season and now. I was disappointed at the end of the Oneida tournament, but now that I have had some time to reflect and focus, I couldn’t be happier with the way that I performed in 2009. Consistency pays off, and for the ninth time in my career, I’m a Bassmaster Classic contender.
During the off-season, I had the opportunity to give back to the outdoor community around me. I was involved in the 7th annual Fishing For Freedom Tournament on Truman Lake, where I had the opportunity to spend time with some of our country’s wounded warriors on and off the water. What a humbling and gratifying experience. I also had the opportunity to get to know the Kansas State University Fishing Team, and speak at one of their club meetings. I commend these guys for all that they are doing in the fishing world, and find myself wishing that collegiate angling would have been available to me when I was their age! Last year I also helped to coordinate a much needed deer management program for my community. We were able to harvest several does, and over time if our efforts continue we will be able to see a much healthier and balanced local deer population.
As a professional bass fisherman, about 7 months of each year revolve around a certain aquatic dwelling green fish. But during the off-season I am able to focus on my favorite terrestrial quarry: the white tailed deer. And this deer season, I was extremely fortunate to harvest my 3rd largest buck ever, which grossed 163 typical inches, from southeastern Kansas. As much as I love bass fishing, I also love the time I am able to spend in the woods deer hunting.
Now the off-season is behind us, and all of the activities, organization, and preparation are done. We’re headed to Birmingham, and I can honestly say that I feel good going into this one. My head is in the right place. I was actually packed and ready three days early, which is a feat when you’re moving your entire family out of your home and into a mobile apartment for 6 months! With all that said, I am really excited to represent my sponsors as I compete in my ninth Bassmaster Classic. This season I will be fishing with the all new Lazer Trokar hooks, the sharpest hooks in the industry. I will also have the opportunity to tap into Skeet Reese’s fishing rod know-how as I will be fishing his signature line of rods from Wright and McGill. I will also be outfitted for battle this season with Wright and McGill’s Sabalos Casting Reels. Ultimately, I am thrilled to continue my association with Eagle Claw. They have been with me since my start in the early 90’s when I was fishing Central Pro Am tournaments, and I am so happy to have them at my side for my ninth Classic appearance! Also this year, I will be fishing out of my 2010 Triton 21HP and 250 Mercury ProXS, which I just picked up from the wrap shop, and I have to say, the new sponsor wrap looks great! We plan to unveil the new wrap soon, so check back for pictures of the rig!