Elite season over…now back to work

Elite season over…now back to work

We just wrapped up the 2016 season with an unbelievable event at Mille Lacs Lake. Man, what a fishery!

That place is remarkable. It is loaded with giant smallmouth and is the best lake for big, brown fish that I’ve ever fished.

As good as it was when we were there the best is yet to come. The fishing at Mille Lacs will get better in a couple weeks when those smallmouth start schooling up and putting on the serious feedbag.

The lake provided an exciting venue for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship. Congratulations to Gerald Swindle for locking up his second Toyota Angler of Year title following a really strong season of consistency.

It was a pretty decent season for me, and it’s hard to believe I’ll be starting my 27th year as a B.A.S.S. pro next January.

Unlike previous years, next season we will fish two regular season events prior to the Bassmaster Classic on Lake Conroe.

But there is still plenty of work to do in 2016 for most Elite pros.

A lot of people think that after our season ends, we just slide into an easy chair, prop up our feet and watch football.

That’s hardly the case. The truth is I’ll be busier with promotional functions in the coming months than I was during the tournament season. For example, I fly to Alaska today to treat a sweepstakes winner with a fishing trip. When I come back I will be filming a lot of TV fishing shows, commercials and attending several media events for sponsors. I also have a smallmouth trip with the winner of the Bassmaster Sweepstakes in northern Michigan coming soon.

And then there’s the business end. With next year’s Elite Series beginning before the Bassmaster Classic, we have to get our new boats rigged and ready earlier than normal, renew sponsor contracts and start planning for the following season.

My wife Sherry will be equally busy plotting the logistics of the spring promotional season, working with sponsors on appearance dates and making travel arrangements for the 2017 tournament season. That in itself is a full-time job for most Elite wives who handle booking of flights during travel, lodging for the tournament sites as well as other obligations we face during the fishing season.

Most people only see the major company sponsors on our jerseys as we walk across the stage at a Bassmaster event and think it’s all about making a living while fishing. It’s not all glamor; to get to that point, there is a ton of work involved behind the scenes that takes away from family life and other non-tournament activities that recreational anglers get to do.

You have no idea how badly I just want to grab my bow and climb into a treestand during bow season, or hook up my boat and spend a week chasing fall smallmouth in northern Michigan without any obligations.

Having said that, I also know I have the greatest job in the world, one that I absolutely love, am passionate about and feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to do it.

Because, after all, it’s all about the attitude!