For me and my professional fishing career, the heart of the season lies in the first half of the year. Some would assume this leaves the second half wide open to just kick back, relax and catch some football games instead of fish. I bet if you were to guess what I’ve been doing the last three or four months, you would guess I’ve been sitting on a beach somewhere having a drink, or maybe way out in the ocean chasing monster fish that I know nothing about.
But in reality, this time of year is just as busy, if not busier than the heart of the fishing season. I think that’s what helps me keep my calm throughout the ups and downs of tournament fishing.
So, let me fill you in on what my days are more like now that the tournament season is over with. Every day starts with getting my kids up, fed and off to school. These mornings go by in a blur—breakfast, pigtails, backpacks—and I know I’m forgetting something… my keys!
Once I get the kids dropped off, you’d probably think this is when I hook up the boat and go fishing. Though I may plan on fishing while my kids are at school, life usually has a different idea. From running my own bass attractant business (Cox Juice) to receiving calls from the school clinic, there never seems to be any time leftover to go fishing. It’s like before I can blink, it’s time to pick the kids back up and get ‘em feed again before we’re off to softball, soccer and cheerleading.
Over the last 7 years of fishing the FLW Tour, I have learned that there aren’t enough hours in the day to get done what needs to be done in order to have a successful season. So, I’m always looking for ways to save time—improvising and changing my plans in seconds—yet still staying on track as if the chaos of life never even happened. In a way, I feel like this time of the year prepares me for the wild ride of professional fishing because I’m managing my family time, relationships and just trying to stay sane all at once.
This second part of the year is when I try to spend as much time with my kids and girlfriend as I can because I know how much I’ll be missing them when the season starts and I’m on the road again. There is still a lot to get done before 2018 begins though, so sometimes I recruit their help and spend time doing what I love with the people I cherish most.
Whether the project is rigging my new Crestliner with Power-Poles and adjusting my Lowrance electronics, or ordering new clothes and tackle, I try to include everyone to keep us together and it certainly helps to have the extra hands.
Of all of the preseason prep work we do, the favorite among the bunch is rod building. My kids range from 6- to 16-years-old and each one can build their own rod, though usually we form an assembly line where everyone has a certain rod building step to help complete the rod.
Building with my family really adds to my love for custom rod building. It’s really special to set the hook on a big ol’ bass and look down to see all the work we put into this rod together.
I’m not going to lie though; we do get some fishing in between all the craziness and we catch some real giant bass together. Few things make me smile more than my kids holding up a bass that’s practically bigger than they are! Now is the time in Florida where fish are starting to get eggs in their bellies and it can quickly turn an 8-pounder into a double-digit bass. Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited and I hope you are too!
Well, if y’all don’t hear from me before the end of the year, have a Happy New Year!
Oh, and if you’re looking for a Christmas gift the entire family can enjoy, then check out the FLW Shop for your own starter kit. Trust me, it is a great way to spend time with the kids.