Thanksgiving has come and gone in our house and now we are fully into Christmas mode. My wife tends to go a little overboard with the decorating and everything, but it’s OK because Wylie really gets a kick out if it.
We had a normal Thanksgiving at my mom’s house. We had cousins, aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas over and it was a good time spent with the family. I think Wylie ate all the cranberry sauce in the entire house. We just ate and ate throughout the day; it was an every two hours type of deal and it was all so delicious.
I will say that I don’t think I can ever eat mash potatoes again. There’s a story there though. That afternoon I started to feel a little queasy after our main meal but then I got a little better. At 10:30 that night, Wylie and I decided to have ourselves a little late-night snack as we brought some leftovers home from mom’s. At about 3 a.m., I got violently sick and started throwing up and didn’t stop until the next day. It was awful and all that was still in me was the mashed potatoes. Thankfully nobody else in the house got sick. Even now, just typing the words mashed potatoes makes me queasy.
My wife got the Christmas tree up two days after Thanksgiving. All the shopping is pretty much done too. She orders everything online and I swear we get a package at the door every day. Wylie is really into mini golf right now, so we got him a set as his big present (don’t tell him).
I’ve been fishing some around the house to stay sharp. In fact, I just fished Lake Norman Wednesday afternoon. I’ve actually got a tournament Saturday – the Ryan Newman charity tournament. Of course, it’s supposed to rain like 2 inches and the high temperature is going to be like 42 degrees, but my buddy Andy Montgomery and I fish it every year. We’re excited, but lately Lake Norman is a thorn in my side. I don’t really like going there anymore because whoever gets one or two random big bites is going to win the tournament and that makes it frustrating. It’s the type of lake you can pattern fish on, but you never really know because they move around so much. That’s why Andy and I try and use the run-and-gun approach and fish as much of it as we can. I’ve made a lot of money over there on Norman, but I still don’t like it.
Other than that, I’m just really enjoying the off-season because before we know it, Christmas will be here and then tournament season is right around the corner. But these days, there really is no off-season. What I mean by that is even though I’m not fishing tournaments, I’m still working with the media quite a bit.
The way I look at it, your job as a professional fisherman is almost a 50-50 split between promoting and selling sponsor products and catching fish. The more attention and exposure you can get, the more valuable you are to a sponsor. It’s a huge source of your income as a professional fisherman.
Because of that, I don’t think I’ve ever turned down an interview or a media appearance. I might have had to reschedule something, but you’ve got to do your best to be accommodating. There aren’t a large number of people working the in the bass fishing media; it’s a small world. You’ve got to treat them well or word gets out and it will hurt your reputation.
A lot of my interviews happen during a tournament and I don’t know that I’ve ever not told the media what I’m throwing. Some people worry about protecting their patterns, but in my eyes, it’s hard to hear what someone else is doing and then go do it yourself. That falls under the category of dock talk and more often than not, you’re going to waste your time doing it. Plus, you don’t want to squander that opportunity to promote your sponsor. At the Forrest Wood Cup with $500,000 on the line, I said on stage the first day that I caught my 7 1/2-pounder on the Damiki Finesse Miki.
I think the most effective way to promote your sponsor is to try and describe how you’re using the product. I will be the first to admit that I don’t catch all my fish on Damiki baits. They make great stuff, but there are so many different baits out there. I throw them a lot, but I don’t always use them.
I think that approach gains a lot of ground with the general public. You don’t want to be known as someone who only names sponsor products; it erodes your credibility. And I think the bass fishing community knows using only one brand is not realistic. If you get up there and always say you are using the same thing, everybody knows you’re lying.
I’m not going to do that and Damiki knows that. That honesty is what makes a great relationship and it also helps with designing new baits. Your sponsor wants you to throw their products. If you can help in making those products better, the more likely you are to use them during a tournament. That’s how my relationship with Damiki has grown. Now, they’re kind of like family.