After hoisting the Forrest Wood Cup in 2016, I just couldn’t wait to get to that stage again, but a lot has happened between then and now. For starters, coming off the big win last year made for a much different off-season. I had to regroup after all the excitement and the media attention, which was definitely new territory for me.
But, it also helped me build a more determined mind-set for dealing with the ups and downs of competing on the FLW Tour.
After winning the Cup, I knew that this year was going to be a big change for me. Coming off a championship isn’t necessarily harder, but it comes with an automatic bid to the next Forrest Wood Cup, and I have seen guys just coast through the following season.
Coasting was exactly what I didn’t want to do, so I put more into this season than I ever have before.
From practice and rod building to just maintaining my momentum, I worked hard to stay focused on improving and giving each day my best possible performance.
Now, that doesn’t mean everything went my way. For instance, on the Harris Chain, I was hungry for a big win close to home, and although I led the entire event, I fell to third on the final day.
The Harris Chain was a tough loss for me, but I really think it did more for me mentally than a win in that situation. I was reminded that, as a pro angler, I never want to get too comfortable.
FAMILY, FISHING AND ROD BUILDING
Everyone always asks what I do in my time between events, and to be honest, it’s a lot of fishing and rod building with my little girls, Savannah, 8, and Lilly, 6. Whether I’ve won or lost, my daughters are my favorite co-anglers to return home to, and they never let me dwell on the past.
We’ve been building rods as a family now for a few years, and I love the opportunity for many reasons. Not only do I like the feeling of preparing for the next Tour event by tweaking my rods, but I also love passing on the lessons I’ve learned in rod building and in life to my kids.
The entire experience helps my physical and mental performance for when I’m on the water across the country.
I guess you could say having those memories makes me think back to why I’m doing all this fishing in the first place. And the answer is always the same: because I love it.
KEEPING MY MOMENTUM FOR LAKE MURRAY
I’m proud to say that this year I didn’t shy away from a single challenge, and I gave every practice, event and moment my best.
Besides my sponsors, I would also like to say a big thanks to my family, all my fans as well as social media followers, and, of course, FLW. This Tour is the real deal, and without their unwavering support, I know I would be fishing, but probably not in all the cool places I’ve seen.
Approaching my fifth Forrest Wood Cup appearance, I would love to put another tally under my wins column and add my name to the list of legends that have won multiple championships. In fact, the chance at being the only FLW angler to win back-to-back Cups is all the motivation that I need to give it everything I’ve got.
The Cup is on the horizon, and with the ranks dropping from 160-plus pros to just 53 of the world’s best anglers, there will be plenty of lake to cover and fish to catch. It’s time to take it to Lake Murray, and I hope you all will watch me do it.