“Let the dataset change your mindset.”
Dateline: …the ruling on the field…
Has been changed.
Last year at my 10th Bassmaster Classic I was done, burnt out, had penned close to 700 stories for B.A.S.S., driven so many miles I lapped the Earth a couple of times when added up, and spent in the decade a total of 225 weeks – 4.3 years – on the road away from my family.
I was tapped out so I tapped out.
Stayed tapped out throughout the year, was looking at timeshares at the beach, possibly a rock ‘n roll cruise, going fishing with a bunch of people in every state of the nation, and then...
Came at me in many ways. Came hard and fast, and none of it – none of it – was expected or foreseen, at least by me.
1. My wife of almost 45 years, Barb, told me she also was burned out and that she was going to put in for retirement, “and now Riley (our dog) and I can come out on the road with you.”
2. “Mr. Barone I’m calling to ask you for your permission to marry your daughter, Ashley.” I said yes, as did Ashley. We are now planning for a September wedding, so suddenly I’m the father of the bride, the father of the wedding dress, the father of the wedding reception ... $$$ ... yeah.
3. And then, as you know, they left.
“Those who can’t change their minds can’t change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw
Based on those three things, everything changed from the moment I said I’m gone until the moment I now say … I’m back.
I have a deep sense of loyalty to B.A.S.S., loyalty to the game as it has always been played, and most of all loyalty to the fans out there who grew up with the game and who have placed the game and B.A.S.S. within their hearts, memories and dreams.
I knew that if I continued to want to look into the mirror and not be ashamed, if I continued to tell my children about loyalty and challenges, if I listened to the voice within, I had only one choice, to come back and be there for the game, the fans and B.A.S.S. during this year of challenges and change.
When I first came to B.A.S.S., I knew nothing about how to fish, and that didn’t bother me much. What bothered me is that I didn’t know anything about those Elite anglers who played their hearts out, who lived and loved the game, and who put it, week to week, all on the line.
I’m coming back to meet the new Elites.
I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity back in 2007 to tell the world just who these Elite dudes are, who their families are, nothing about how to catch a fish, but about life, their lives off the boats.
I never saw it coming, the opportunity to do it again, this time with a new crowd.
So that’s what I’ve agreed to do, come back and once again dive into the lives of those who wear the Elite badge, and once again you’ll be able to come along with me as I find out the who, the what, the where of the new Elites.
I know nothing about them, the new guys, and trust me it will be fun finding out their stories, their goals, their dreams, their loved ones.
I hope you join me once again, this time when I’m out on the road (and it will be somewhat limited on the amount of time) I will be out there with Barb and Riley too, as well as great friends Steve Kennedy, John Crews, Bill Lowen, Keith Combs, Hank Cherry and many others including my ol’ bud, Rick Clunn.
Hold tight changes.
Hold tight new beginnings.
Hold tight reawakenings.
I’m thrilled and re-energized … this is going to be a blast.
“With me, you never know what is going to happen.”