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Bass Angler Magazine

2019 Bassmaster Classic Champion’s Perspective

perspective.Merriam-Webster.com (noun): the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance.

Perspective—that’s the word for 2019. We—Jennie and I—developed a whole new perspective last year that we have carried into 2020. We learned so much in 2019.

One thing we learned is that there are a lot of fishing fans out there. There are fans of television icons Bill Dance, Roland Martin, and Jimmy Houston, as well as fans of The Bass Pros on Outdoor Channel and my television show—The Hunt for Monster Bass. There are fans of the Bassmaster Classic and certainly fans of Major League Fishing.

Times are great in fishing these days for anglers, fans, and companies. We can all watch more fishing programming than ever. When I was recovering from heart surgery last year, I got to watch every minute of the Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Winnebago. I learned a lot, and I found it very entertaining, too. I watched my friends competing over at Bassmaster during my recovery time as well.

So many people have reached out and offered congratulations on the Classic win as well as prayers and support for the heart surgery and recovery. Honestly, the heart surgery response was the biggest outpouring of support of all. That fact changed our perspective. Bass fishing fans are some of the finest people who walk the earth.

One question that has been hanging out there is whether or not I’ll be fishing the Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville this year.

I will not be fishing. It is not any single tournament organization’s fault, either. It was ultimately my decision. When we chose to fish the Bass Pro Tour instead of the Elite Series, we knew this would be the last Classic I would qualify for. Per B.A.S.S. rules, you must fish the Elite Series in order to receive your automatic berth for the next year.

Not fishing it this year makes me appreciate the win in Knoxville even more. I can always say I won it. My name will be on the trophy from here on out.

But you know what?—trophies fade. Titles lose importance. People forget. Money gets spent. Accolades become ancient history. I’m reminded of a passage from the book of Matthew, chapter 6.

“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

There will be a new Classic winner this year. I know for a fact that it’s a career-changer. My hope is we will grow the Bass Pro Tour’s championship to be a career-changer as well. That will take some time and a lot of effort, but we are excited to have the opportunity to be along for the journey.

I plan to be in Birmingham to hand off the trophy. When Jordan Lee handed it to me, he said two things –“this thing is heavy, and throw away your phone.” It was indeed heavy, but I decided to hang onto my phone. I’ve met a lot of great people this year and had a lot of great conversations, both in-person and on that phone.

I’ll be at the Expo on Sunday and welcome anyone to stop by and say hello.

11:00 a.m. – Bass Pro Shops/Nitro

12:00 p.m. – Mercury

1:00 p.m. – Humminbird/Minn Kota

2:00 p.m. – Mossy Oak

In a year filled with blessings, gaining more perspective was the biggest one of 2019.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33

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