Giving thanks for 2021

In this month where giving thanks takes center stage, I look back over my first Bassmaster Elite season and find several things I thankful for.

There was a lot on the line this first year. I wanted to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, I wanted to do well and have a good season and it felt a lot like my first season of professional fishing 20 years ago. Even though I’ve been fishing with and against a lot of these guys my whole career, it was like starting over. 

I was starting a whole new chapter — a whole new path — so there was a lot more pressure for me to perform. And when we film and document everything like we do, you have a lot of eyes on us and a lot of people pulling for us.

That added some extra pressure, but that’s what drives me. That’s just how I’m geared. 

To that point, I can say that I’m thankful for the extra motivation that a tough year brings. I had an okay season, but I wouldn’t say it was a great season. 

What I learned is that I can’t take anything for granted — these guys are too good. Even though I’ve been doing this a lot of years, these guys are ferocious fishermen. They're very very talented. That’s why they’re on the Elites — the toughest competition out there.

I also learned that I have to go for it next year. The few times I thought, "Oh, they’re not going to catch them that good," it turned out to be the opposite.

I have to put in some extra work, some extra thought processes to have a good season next year. These are lessons that only come through experience at the highest level of bass fishing, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to compete on the Elite Series and grow as an angler.

That being said, my number one goal for this year was to make the Classic, which I did. Winning a tournament was certainly high on the list, but winning the Classic is the whole reason I’m here, and I can’t do that if I’m not qualified. I’m thankful that I was able to reach that goal.

Along the way, the support I received from my family, friends and fans has been incredible. I’m super thankful for everyone who has cheered for me and helped me maintain the enthusiasm and focus it takes to keep your head in the game.

I am who I am because of God, my family and my fans. That’s what drives me.

Every event, I have a lot of eyeballs watching me. I fish as hard as I can so I can provide great content, not only for my fans, but to also to get new people excited about the sport of fishing.

I’m very thankful for all of the people who follow my career and who appreciate the content we produce because if I didn’t have a fan base, I probably wouldn’t be doing this.