We are certainly facing some unprecedented times, with COVID-19 causing major disruptions across all walks of life.
As an FLW professional angler I am also certainly affected by this unanticipated event that has put our tournament schedule on a temporary hold as the country – and the world – is rolling up its sleeves to take control of the pandemic.
OK, now that we have acknowledged the elephant in the room that we have all been dealing with for the last month or so, let’s talk about some of the positive aspects to the temporary change in our lifestyles.
From spending some quality time with my wife, Katie, and my dog, Doppler, to organizing my life and fun fishing, there are numerous ways that I have been able to take advantage of our current social responsibility to participate in “social distancing.”
Honey, I’m home
Probably the biggest silver lining that has come from having my schedule open up is the ability to spend a great deal of time at home with Katie and Doppler.
I am certainly exceptionally lucky to be a professional fisherman, however, the time away from home and family is one of the tolls I pay to have such an incredibly rewarding job. However, with the postponement of all sporting events, including fishing tournaments, I now have a rare opportunity to spend time with Katie and “Dop” at a time of the year when I usually am running all over the country fishing numerous events.
This unexpected time off has been a great opportunity to spend time at home, as well as practice social distancing and take Katie and Dop on the water to experience all that springtime fishing has to offer. This is a time of the year I rarely get to go “fun fishing” due to a hectic competition schedule.
A time of self-improvement
I’ll admit, when I’m not on the road competing, I really enjoy time at home being lazy, and there is certainly a lot of that happening on the weekends in the Burghoff household. However, I am the kind of person that always needs to be working on self-improvement.
During the heat of the season, it is nearly impossible to find time to really focus on improving myself, whether learning a new technique, exercising or organizing my equipment.
Coming off of my worst finish (90th place) of the season at Lake Martin, there are certainly some aspects of my “game” that need improvement, and this unexpected break is giving me the ability to assess my weaknesses and build upon them.
For instance, at Martin, I found that I had a lack of confidence to target the bigger-on-average spotted bass, while focusing solely on the fickle largemouth in the lake. My time off has helped me recognize my weakness in multi-species lakes where smallmouth and spotted bass may play a bigger role than the largemouth I like to target.
I have dedicated a great amount of time to doing extra research on the upcoming events that have a multi-species component – Hartwell and Cherokee – by scouring YouTube and watching past FLW tournament shows, as well as reading articles on FLWFishing.com.
Though the term “fun fishing” is what I would apply to any opportunity I get to launch my Nitro Z20 in the water, the opportunity to fish with no competitive strings attached is also a rare treat – especially during April.
I have been able to get out on Lake Chickamauga more often than I have in a long time, and I have been able to experiment with different tactics that I normally would never get the opportunity to try under the pressure of a hectic tournament schedule.
Aside from simply getting out on the lake, the opportunity to get some great content for my SonarFishing YouTube channel, Instagram and Facebook pages keeps my fans happy, and that is a major plus for me.
“Dabbling” in the arts
Last, but certainly not least, I am taking this time of social distancing as a chance to reconnect with another passion I have – art.
About five years ago I started drawing for the first time since high school, and I actually was able to create a little side hustle selling my art.
Of course, being a fishing fanatic, I take my connection with the fish I chase and use it as my inspiration in my artwork.
Until the recent social distancing guidelines, I found it hard to get back into my art because there just wasn’t enough time. Now, I have not only been able to pick up where I left off, but I am also experimenting with a new medium.
After I got home from Lake Martin, I was inspired by the numerous laydowns in the lake that I caught many largemouth bass out of during the week. With this inspiration, I finally decided to try my hand at painting with oil paints for the first time, and I’m almost done with my very first oil painting.
I couldn’t imagine getting a better opportunity than I have right now to reconnect with a passion for art, which is sometimes overshadowed by my immense passion for tournament fishing.
Overall, I look forward to adding a few more pieces to my portfolio, which will help me develop the artwork business that I genuinely look forward to building over the years.
The silver lining
There is no doubt that this unprecedented lifestyle disruption will have long-lasting effects on how we live our lives from here on out.
Some of those changes will be difficult, but what I have found is that this pandemic is also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for self-improvement and much needed perspective.
Despite the fact that this is a serious event we are all experiencing right now, which requires a heightened sense of social responsibility, this is also an extraordinary chance to improve our weaknesses, spend time with family, possibly reinvent ourselves and reconnect with our passions that are lost in the haste of our everyday hustle.
In the end, I sincerely hope that everyone reading this is able to not only weather the storm we are facing, but also use this time of social distancing to safely enjoy the outdoors and improve upon themselves and their families.
Be safe, and be positive!