Cliff Pace is gearing up for a busy offseason at home in Mississippi. Photo by Joe Branch

The offseason may seem like a time where anglers can sit back and relax after a long and grueling regular season. While some pros may get to do that, I am not one of the lucky ones. From September to January, my schedule is packed with things that I want to do and things that I have to do.

No Time for Rest

My offseason is really my busiest time of the year. I love being a professional angler, but most people only see the work we do on the water. No one really sees how much we have to do off the water to keep our career going. While the offseason is nice and can be relaxing, a lot of us have pretty booked schedules in the offseason because we’re doing things with our sponsors that we had to postpone during the season.

Not only am I trying to make my sponsors happy, but I’m also busy running a business. During the offseason is when I really try to catch up on my work for Black Label Tackle, which is my handcrafted balsa crankbait business. I make each one of those baits that I sell through the company myself. It takes a lot of time to craft and paint those baits, and these next three months are really when I get after it.

You Won’t See Me on the Water

These next few months are really just all about getting ready and caught up for the next season on the Bass Pro Tour. I don’t have a lot of time for fishing, and really, that’s alright by me. I seem to do better as a professional angler when I have the opportunity to step away from any kind of fishing for a while. It helps me decompress and gives me the energy I need after a taxing season.

Even though I’m not on the water a whole lot, I still have to prepare myself in other ways for 2020.

One season on the Bass Pro Tour has taken my nice and beautiful preorganized tackle and turned it into a matted mess of discombobulation. Now, I’m not the kind of guy who can work on tackle five days in a row. I can only work on it a little bit at a time before I feel like I’m hitting a wall. So, I tell myself that one day I’m going to organize all my topwaters, then my crankbaits, and then my plastics. That way, I can just take it a step at a time and not feel overwhelmed by the amount of organization I need to do.

Looking Back and Forward

As I head into the 2020 season, I can look back on my 2019 season and say that I’m pretty happy with it. I got a win in Neenah, Wisconsin during Stage Eight and that gave me a good amount of confidence going into next year. Confidence is huge, no matter what the sport is. You have to have confidence in yourself and your ability in order to accomplish anything.

To win an event on the Bass Pro Tour is really special. I struggled to begin the year but I was able to come back strong and finish with a good season under my belt. Hopefully this offseason I will be able to manage my time wisely and be ready to go come February.