To understand the route this year has taken we have to go back to last season. I don’t remember exactly when or why we were talking, but the World Famous Tyler Cole brought up an “Elite” style tournament series to me. Of course I immediately got excited and passed the news to my mom. She seemed even more enthused at the idea than me, and proposed I try to qualify for that by fishing tournaments full time in 2022. I believe she’s regretted saying that more than once now. As I sit here overlooking Lake Martin, Alabama at the end of April, all of the memories of the past few months flood back to my mind. On January 29th I departed Nebraska, pounding down the highway and into a new way of life. I had quit my job and aimed to make my income for the year off of checks I’d win in fishing tournaments.
My first stop was by Broken Bow Lake in Oklahoma, which is actually where I’m heading towards again as I write this. For a few days I looked around and got a feel for how the lake set up. We’ll be kicking away from the ramp on May 14th for the next stop on the Hobie Bass Open Series.
After surveying the playing field in OK, I pointed to one of my favorite states, Texas. I lived in the Wilderness around Toledo Bend preparing for the first tournament of the year as the cold and rain put me in a bad mood for a couple weeks. The first BOS tournament came and went, leaving me with the same feeling I’ve come to know so well. Both my teammate Adam and I were once again one bite away from cashing a check and starting the year off with a bang.
Next up was an All American Kayak Series tournament in which I failed miserably. I followed it up with a few local tournaments where I also stubbed my toe and left me feeling spun out. This had me wondering if leaving the farm back home was really a good idea.
One of the tournaments on the schedule I felt the best about going into the year was up next. Heading east down the road, I arrived at the famed Santee Cooper. Talk about being far from home! I had some very interesting and very new experiences while in South Carolina. I managed to kindle a new fire and left the past tournaments behind me. This is the breakthrough tournament, I told myself. Making some very rookie mistakes on day one of the second Hobie tournament left me one fish short of my limit. Everyone knows what monsters swim in Santee, so the next day I decided I’d catch 100 inches and rocket up the leaderboard into a check spot. Unfortunately, I came about 20 inches short of this goal. Once again I found myself sitting on the sidelines at the awards needing only one more bite to earn a check.
After Santee I believe I had fished a dozen Hobie BOS events. In those twelve events I had cashed a check a total of ZERO times. On multiple occasions being within one fish of that elusive National Event check, and the closest time being a quarter of an inch outside of the money. I am not writing this to gain sympathy, make excuses, or use it as a way to feel sorry for myself. I despise all of those things, actually. The purpose of dwelling on these past failures was- and is- a way to motivate myself to figure out how to make a living in this game. All of those fish that I lost and the calls with family and friends trying to cheer me up just made it sweeter when we finally broke through the barrier and grabbed the first check of my career with Hobie.
I haven’t done very good keeping people up to speed on what’s been happening so far while on the road. Hopefully this will give you some insight into my adventures in 2022. In the next blog read about what will hopefully be the turning point of the season. It will be about my week on Lake Eufaula in Alabama where I finally earned a Hobie BOS check.