Felicia and I married on March 9, 2019. I met her four years ago, just prior to gaining my first sponsors, Abu Garcia and Berkley. It almost seems like fate that my relationship with Felicia and those companies happened at about the same time.
Felicia has been with me from the beginning of my quest to become a pro bass angler. She’s seen it all transpire. Getting married is a big step for both of us. We have officially come together as one team.
Felicia has always been enormously helpful and is the most essential part of my support squad. I don’t believe any bass pro can survive in this sport for long without strong backing from their family, friends and sponsors.
We stay at campgrounds in a truck camper when traveling to tournaments. It’s our home away from home. What Felicia does behind the scenes lowers my stress level and helps me focus on fishing. She books campsites ahead of time, makes the travel arrangements and schedules oil changes.
During the tournament, Felicia goes grocery shopping and cooks meals. Back when I had to do all of those things on my own, I’d end up going to bed at midnight only to get up at 4 a.m. to compete against some of the best anglers in the country. I don’t fish well when I’m sleep deprived.
The videos I produce for 496 Films are a big deal for my sponsors and me. Felicia takes photos and videos at tournaments for 496 Films during the tournaments and files nearly all of them on a computer while we’re there. She also helps me provide daily updates to my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Social media has become a vital part of being a bass pro.
With Felicia’s help, the main thing I have to do at a tournament is prepare my equipment. That frees my mind to concentrate on catching bass.
Felicia had never caught a fish before she met me. Now she can cast a baitcaster, flip and pitch and catch bass by herself. She really got it in gear one time when we were in Minnesota. She caught about a dozen bass by flipping a Berkley Pit Boss into flooded trees. That really helped her learn how to detect a bite. She is an absolute addict now and gets upset when she can’t go with me when the bite is good.
Besides handling everything to keep me on track, Felicia runs her own business. She is a makeup artist. Basically, she applies makeup to people for special events like weddings. She schedules her work while we’re on the road. It has become a big industry. Sometimes I wake up at a tournament looking pretty nasty. Maybe I should get her to do makeup for me.
My sponsors are also part of my support team. I think the biggest thing with sponsors is developing a relationship. You want to partner with sponsors you can grow with. I want to work with companies that want to work with me. I want to be excited about their products. It should be stuff I would use even if the company were not a sponsor of mine.
I’ve been in partnerships where things didn’t click. They expected something different than what I was bringing to the table. I seek partnerships where we both feel we are benefitting and that we are growing together. That gives me some sense of security that my job isn’t at stake every year. That will drive you crazy.
This is an individual sport, but it requires a huge amount of support behind the scenes. Ultimately, I can’t make my living chasing little green fish without a team.