Photos by Bob Hunt/Josh Gassmann

Dear 25-year-old Mark Davis,

There’s a lot of things that, when you look back on your career and wish you could change, you would. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had a great career, but there are still some things we could have done a little bit differently.

Don’t Burn the Candle at Both Ends

My health has given me a lot of trouble since I was about 45, and all of my problems were due to wear and tear. The first thing you need to know: Don’t fish every day of your life from daylight to dark. Don’t burn the candle at both ends.

I fished on days I didn’t have to fish or didn’t need to fish, and that caused me to wear myself and my body out. Now, here we are, six surgeries later: an elbow, three on my shoulder, a neck fusion, and a hip replacement, all due to fishing too much and too hard. If there’s a day where the wind is blowing too hard, or it’s too cold, or it’s too hot, just take a break.

Now, the problem with what I just told you is that it’s a Catch 22. Because I fished so much and fished so hard, I think it made me a better angler. It’s hard for me to know what my career would be like if I didn’t go so hard when I was younger. However, taking care of yourself is important.

I guess what I’m trying to say is you will get plenty of fishing in, but you only have one body.

Always Try to Look Out for Yourself

The second tip I have for you is to know your worth. You will learn once you get older that in the corporate world, what you’re offered is not always the best deal. Not everyone in this world has your best interests in mind, that’s just the way it is.

When it comes to sponsorships and business dealings, just try to look out for yourself, and get the best deal you can for you and your family. Don’t be afraid to explore and negotiate when it comes to business, you won’t regret it.

Embrace Change

Fishing has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Don’t be scared of that change. In fact, you should embrace it.

I was always pretty quick to embrace new trends, techniques, lures and technology, because if you wanted to remain successful, you had to. Still, there are going to be some things that you won’t like too much. Well, that’s too bad, because things are going to change with or without you on board.

For example, right now you’re a pretty accomplished offshore angler. Right now, you have an advantage over the rest of the field because you have knowledge and expertise fishing offshore with a flasher and a paper map. Most other guys won’t take the time to do what you’re doing. But soon, this thing called GPS is going to come along, and your advantage is going to be gone because everyone will have access to the same information you do.

It’s not a bad thing though, because it’s good for the sport. You just need to make sure that you adapt your game and strategy with this new technology.

Enjoy the Ride

The last piece of advice I have for you is to enjoy the ride. Fishing for a living is truly a blessing. The support of your family is second to none and let them know that you appreciate them. I know it might be hard to believe now, but fast forward to 2019 and you are going to be a Bass Fishing Hall of Fame inductee. Your hard work will pay off, just be sure to have some fun while you’re at it.

Sincerely,

Mark Davis