Every off-season is a little bit different, but as I sort through my QUANTUM PT rods and reels and look ahead to the start of the 2018 season on the Bassmaster Elite Series, I can promise you one thing: I’m going to catch ’em this year.

My goal EVERY year is to catch ’em, but I have some extra fire burning in my belly to make 2018 special.

The last time you probably saw me, I was doing a cannonball into Pokegama Lake in Minnesota. I had just won the Bassmaster Classic Bracket, and had managed to grab one of the very last spots in this year’s Bassmaster Classic on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina. And you may have even seen me shed a tear or two when I won that event.

I’m not ashamed of it, either: that was maybe the biggest win of my professional fishing career. It was easily the most mentally challenging event I’ve ever fished, but once it was all over with and I had both the Bracket trophy and the Classic berth in my hands, it started to dawn on me how important that challenge was.

That Bracket week brought me right back to where I started bass fishing in the first place, near my home in Virginia.

As I drove away from that lake in Minnesota, with the trophy in the passenger’s seat next to me, I felt a thrill and excitement that I can only compare to the feeling I had when I was a kid, standing on the bank of the little quarry pond I learned to fish on.

I’ve been doing this for a living for 13 years now, but this upcoming season feels different somehow. I’m more excited and ready to compete than I can ever remember. I hope to see some of you along the way this season!