Family Before Fishing - Major League Fishing

Family Before Fishing

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Some things take precedent over bass tournaments
June 13, 2018 • Matt Stefan • Angler Columns

This is my eighth year fishing the FLW Tour, and the next event on Lake St. Clair will be the first true smallmouth tournament we have fished during my career. Naturally, being from Wisconsin, I love chasing smallmouths whenever I can. So to say I’m excited is an understatement. Yes, there are largemouths to be caught, but on St. Clair smallmouths will dominate, and I can’t wait to get this tournament started.

I’ve only been to St. Clair once before, but I like how it sets up and have a lot of experience fishing big-water smallies. I expect to do well in this tournament. At the very least, I’m looking to lock up my Forrest Wood Cup invitation, as I currently sit in 26th place in the Pennzoil Marine Angler of the Year standings, and the top 40 in the standings getting invites to the Cup.

All that being said, I might skip the tournament.

Yes, I’m serious.

Hear me out.

My wife, Sara, is due to deliver our second child on July 1, which is the fourth day of the St. Clair Tour event. She has expressed her need for me to be at the birth and help her through the delivery. Our first child, Hank, resulted in a 52-hour labor, and I do believe I was helpful to her. I also know that I would regret missing it for the rest of my life. Therefore, I’ll do whatever I can to be at the delivery and still fish the tournament. But if the birth falls on one of the tournament days, I’ll be in Wisconsin and not Michigan.

I realize we fish all season long with the goal of making the Forrest Wood Cup, and accomplishing that goal is within my grasp. I also realize that my sponsors expect me to make the Cup and provide them with as much exposure as possible. These are the things people regularly point out when they hear about this situation. Trust me, those facts don’t escape me.

It’s actually been quite surprising to me how many people have told me I’m absolutely nuts for even considering missing a tournament with this much on the line, and that “it’s my job, so I need to fish.”

I get it, but family comes before fishing.

Don’t think these situations are unusual, either. This is the kind of stuff that professional fishermen routinely face while spending much of the year on the road.

Fishing for a living is, in fact, allowing me to live out my dream, but missing family events is probably the hardest thing anglers have to deal with while being on the road. We do it on a regular basis, and we sacrifice a lot. It’s just that some things must take precedent over fishing. In this case, the birth of my second child is more important than fishing, and if I get the call I’m heading home.

What would you do if you were in my shoes?