A year as Classic champ

I want to start by telling you that I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last column. The new Elite season and preparing for the upcoming GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods have taken up a tremendous amount of time. Now that the Classic’s just a week away, preparation becomes even more important, but so does this column.

I hope to write several columns over the next couple of weeks and even a few during the Classic on Lake Conroe. My mind never stops churning as I get ready for it. I’m feeling good about my preparation and I’m super optimistic about my chances. The Classic is an easy tournament to get “up” for, and I want to make the most of my time and energy between now and Day 1.

This seems like the perfect time to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed being your Bassmaster Classic champion. Thank you all for making the experience so great! Yes, the money was nice and it’s created some business opportunities for me, but the very best thing about it has been the chance to meet so many of you.

As an Elite Series pro, I had a certain level of recognition on the road and at events. That increased exponentially after winning the Classic, and it’s very humbling. I’ve done my best to take the time to speak with everyone I could and to say “yes” to as many requests as possible. It’s been a great and very humbling experience.

I was especially rewarded by my efforts with Wounded Warriors in Action, taking these heroes fishing and raising money and awareness for a great cause. These veterans have become my friends, and I hope to work with them and support them for a long time to come.