It seems like it was over in one second

I know I’m supposed to say something here, but I don’t know what to say. It really hasn’t sunk in yet. I won the 2020 Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Chickamauga Lake. I can say, that but I’m having trouble really comprehending it.

When I do think back on it it’s like it all happened in one second. I was practicing, and then it was over and I was hugging a blue trophy. My dream had come true.

In my defense, though, I’ve been really busy since Monday afternoon. I’m fishing the 2020 Bassmaster Central Open at Neely Henry Lake. Just because you’re coming off a win doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. This is a competitive sport with lots and lots of good anglers in it. You have to do everything possible to stay competitive.

But, getting back to Chickamauga …

I have to say that as I look back on that one second in time some things that I’ve always heard proved to be true. Now I know why the other anglers say them.

There was something special — different — about this one the morning of the second day. I could feel it. My fish were in an area that almost nobody else was fishing, and the few who were fishing it were fishing it too fast and then moving on to other places. There was just something that clicked that second morning. There’s no other way to describe it.

My fiancée, Paren, was in Destin, Fla., at a wedding during the tournament. I called her and told her that I had that feeling, that this was going to be the one that brought me my first B.A.S.S. professional tournament win. She believed in me and jumped on a plane to get to the tournament on the final day. That’s how strong I felt the win was going to happen.

Another thing you hear is that everything has to fall into place perfectly to win one of these things. I understand that now. That’s the way it was with me. I can’t tell you about all the things that happened, but I can tell you that they all happened just the way they needed to happen for me to win.

This is a dream come true. You hear that all the time, basically whenever a guy wins an Elite Series tournament or a Bassmaster Classic. But it’s true. We spend most of our lives thinking about fishing the Elite Series and winning one of the tournaments. And then, all of a sudden, you’re standing there hugging a big, beautiful blue trophy with someone you love and your fellow anglers.

It’s like things have come full circle and you’re where you’ve always wanted to be as a professional bass angler. The message I have for all of you out there who want to fish professionally is, “Don’t give up on your dream.” It will happen if you work hard and keep at it.

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