At the beginning of this year I was excited about the opportunity to fish the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and the Bassmaster Elite Series. I was most excited about fishing the spawn in March and April on some of my favorite lakes. When the schedules for both circuits were first released I was feeling very confident about doing some sight-fishing on Santee Cooper, Eufaula and Lake Hartwell. It’s been difficult missing out on tournament fishing during the peak of the spawn. Just like everyone, I’m trying to adjust to the change of plans.
This is usually the busiest time of year for me. Normally I would be at a tournament or making plans and packing to drive to the next one. I’d be studying maps of lakes and checking the Weather Channel and strategizing for the next tournament. Then when I’m home, the kids are busy with the spring softball season and soccer and we stay on the go with everyone’s schedules. Our way of normal life has come to a stop – as most everyone’s has. The one nice thing is that quarantine has freed up a lot of time I don’t normally have.
For a while now we have been wanting to close in a room in the garage, but just haven’t had any spare time. Being home with nowhere to go has forced us to finally tackle this project. With the help of my buddy Keith Carson, his girlfriend Natalie, and my wife, Melissa and kids we almost have a room built in the garage. My wife and kids have been learning how to hang drywall, scrape popcorn off ceilings, use a drill, mud the walls, sand drywall, hang a ceiling fan and paint. It’s been a learning experience for the kids – and I bet they’ll be ready to go back to school by the time this project is over. Drywalling and painting has taken me back to my roots. Back in the day, Keith and I used to paint apartments to earn enough money to fish our next tournaments. Man, I don’t miss those days. Doing this remodel project makes me appreciate even more the opportunity to fish for a living to provide for my family. Sometimes you don’t realize how much you love something until you aren’t able to do it anymore.
It’s not been all work and no play though. We’ve been accomplishing a lot on the house, but we’ve also made some time to do what I love – and that’s fish. I don’t normally get the opportunity to fish with the family on our home waters during this time of year because I’m always gone. I’ve been able to take all the kids fun fishing and drag some shiners. We’ve been limited on what lakes we can go to because a lot of boat ramps have been closed, but fortunately our county is still open. We’ve also taken advantage of the pond in the backyard. My big stress reliever is going down and feeding my fish. I recently discovered that my fish love bologna. You should see the looks I get at the dollar store when I clear the bologna shelf. We’re still testing out what our pet fish will eat. This past week, my daughter Lily gave one of the bass a Peeps from her Easter basket and he loved it!
This quarantine is an adjustment for everyone with the uncertainty of what the future holds, fears of not being able to bring in an income, school cancelled for the year, virtual learning for the kids and everyone being home together all the time. I really hope we can get back to tournament fishing, but there’s also been good to find in all of this. We live such a fast-paced life. We are ALWAYS on the go, whether it’s prepping for a tournament, practicing for a tournament, competing in a tournament or being on the road and away from family. During the last month of this quarantine I’ve been able to enjoy some time with my family without the rush of an alarm or time clock. I’ve been able to get a fish tank and net with Lily and watch her excitement daily as she catches tadpoles and baby bass and adds them to her tank. I’ve been able to play catch with Savannah and I finally talked her into holding a bass. I’ve been able to go on some late night runs to Dairy Queen and just talk to my son, Adam, about life. I’ve enjoyed watching Netflix with my wife after the kids are in bed. We’ve been able to sleep in together. There’s so many important events and occasions I have to miss out on when I’m traveling. With my original tournament schedule I was going to be away on Easter this year but with the quarantine I was able to see my kids’ faces on Easter morning. I was able to be home when my daughter, Alyssa, did her gender reveal to announce I’m having a grandson!
So as much as I can’t wait to get the green light to go back to tournament fishing I am choosing to see the positive in all of this. I’m thankful we’re all healthy and safe. We’re always wishing that time would slow down and right now for a small bit of time, the world has come to a stop and I’m taking advantage of it to enjoy my family. I think a good life lesson to take from this quarantine is to not take what we have for granted because life can change in a moment. I didn’t truly value the opportunity to make a living fishing until now. My prayers are that we can all safely return to tournament fishing soon. Until then be safe, stay home and enjoy the time with your family and hopefully we can all return to doing what we love soon.