I absolutely love January.
Each year, January brings the same thing: a clean slate where we all are looking to utilize the lessons we learned (good or bad) in the previous season to our advantage, and hopefully maintain some positive momentum into the new year.
For me, 2019 was a milestone year. I was finally able to test my mettle against some of the best in the biz while competing in my rookie season on the FLW Tour, and feel I fared pretty well with a 15th-place finish in the standings and a Cup berth.
Now with 2019 in the rear-view mirror, 2020 is in the crosshairs, and I look forward to the challenges ahead. With the rebranding of the Tour to the new FLW Pro Circuit, there are some great new opportunities that both fans and competitors will benefit from.
With the first event at Sam Rayburn right around the corner, I’ve been really trying to analyze the biggest challenges I will be facing on the Pro Circuit this year.
Looking at the schedule, if I were to say it looks “good” that would certainly be an understatement. As a shallow-water power fisherman, I think the schedule FLW has put together for the 2020 season is pretty stout. Pretty much every single event in the lineup will have the potential for a shallow-water angler to win – or at least do very well.
There is really only one fishery on the regular-season schedule that I feel is a wild card, and that is the Detroit River. I have never fished at that fishery, nor have I ever fished an event on any of the Great Lakes waterways. I’m not saying I’m particularly worried about that event, but I know that my inexperience will certainly be a challenge.
Otherwise, the schedule looks very complementary to my fishing style, and even though I haven’t fished most of the lakes on the schedule, I feel confident I can make each lake fit my strengths.
Another challenge I have ahead of me is staying focused on the process that I translated into success in the past. Whether working on tackle organization, eating healthy or breaking down a new lake in my own way, each check and each AOY point is a direct result of “the process” that I utilize in each tournament.
Though most of the process I implemented in 2019 will remain unchanged, I look to put more emphasis on time management, both at home and on the road. In 2019 I had too many irons in the fire that ultimately fractured my focus and affected my performances. This year, I hope to reduce some of the distractions, while also putting more energy into the high-return activities, such as creating valuable social media content. I’m especially interested in creating more videos for my YouTube channel @sonarfishing.
For a guy who likes to say yes a lot, it will be hard for me to say no to some things this year, but I believe it will benefit me in the long run to do so.
Last year was a whirlwind in the fishing industry, to say the least. Everyone has felt the tectonic plates of professional fishing shifting in unprecedented fashion. The most notable event of the year was MLF purchasing FLW.
With the merger of these two powerhouse organizations, there have been many changes, and though change can create a lot of uncertainty and cause emotionally charged reactions, I am really excited about the future of the Pro Circuit.
For an angler like me, there are incredible opportunities ahead on the Pro Circuit – most notably the exposure opportunities that this acquisition has created.
FLW has always been very strong in the print and digital content space, but by joining forces with MLF, they were really able to strengthen their television presence, too.
Since MLF is a highly television-driven organization, the 2020 Pro Circuit coverage will be drastically increased from 2019, with shows airing on the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel a total of 312 hours. This means that if I perform, I will have a chance to really push the needle for my sponsors in a big way.
All in all, I believe that the changes we have seen to the Pro Circuit will equate to more fishing content for fans, and more exposure for the anglers and their sponsors, which in my book is a big win.
I said in the beginning that 2019 was a milestone year for me. It was a year where I accomplished so many lifelong goals, but what really made it special was that I got to share that experience with my biggest fan – my mom.
Mom was there at every event, whether cheering me on through a computer screen, or screaming at the top of her lungs in person at the Cup. She was there every step along the way.
Unfortunately, my mom passed away this past November. Though it was a very difficult experience losing my mom, her passing has strengthened my resolve in many ways. Not only am I driven by my own personal aspirations, but I also find extra drive, motivation and strength in thinking about how much she believed in me, and how I want to step up to meet the bar she placed for me.
So, here I sit; another January has begun, and another season is about to kick off. However, this January is unlike any other I have experienced. This January brings new challenges to overcome, new opportunities to seize and a new guardian angel on my shoulder each day on the water.
2020 is going to be a great year, and I can’t wait to back the Nitro in and get things started.