Get a second opinion

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B.A.S.S.

This column isn’t about bass fishing — not directly anyway — but it might save you a lot of pain and money as well as prolong your fishing. I’m talking about getting a second opinion when you have a physical issue. I didn’t do that. It cost me. 

I’ve had problems with my shoulder for months and months. I was told I had tendonitis in it. Based on that medical opinion I continued to fish this year. I struggled, but I did have a few decent finishes and thought I had a pretty good shot at making the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

That thought didn’t last long, however. I missed the last two events of the season. My shoulder got so bad I couldn’t fish. As a result I’ll miss the Classic. Basically, my year was ruined. OK, maybe ruined is too strong a word. I did make three cuts, and the checks that go with them, but it certainly wasn’t what I expected.  

When I went to the doctor for a second opinion I was informed my shoulder was in really bad shape. I’ll spare you the medical details, but the bottom line is I needed surgery and rehabilitation. I had the surgery, and I’m in rehabilitation right now. 

The good news is the surgery was successful and at some point I’ll be as good as new. As of right now I have full range of motion, but it hasn’t happened without a lot of pain and three trips a week to the physical therapist. The way things are going I should be 100% next year.  

I’m writing this because I can’t help but think, had I gotten a second opinion early, before I continued to use my shoulder and to try to fight through the pain, I might have been back earlier and endured a whole lot less pain. 

Would I have been able to fish this year? I don’t know. Would I have made the Classic? I don’t know. What I do know is I couldn’t finish this year, and I’ll be working the Classic Expo next March in South Carolina instead of out there fishing on Lake Hartwell.   

My message to all you anglers: You should not to ignore things or try to fight your way through them. As soon as something isn’t getting better, go get a second opinion. I know most of you don’t earn your living in the fishing industry like I do, but you still want to be out there catching bass. You can’t do that if you’re all messed up like I was.

The bottom line: Don’t make the same mistake I made. 

All that said, though, I’m still excited about next year’s Classic. It’s on Lake Hartwell, a lake that covers about 56,000 acres. The way the lake sets up — depending on the weather — there’ll be plenty of water for all the anglers and plenty of opportunity for them to fish to their strength. On top of that, Greenville is a great fishing town. The crowds will be massive, no doubt, and the festivities fun. Frankly, the Expo isn’t what I want, but it’s not the worst thing either. 

And so, despite my disappointment, I’m looking forward to going. I hope you can make it, too.