At the end of the world

I recently spent a week in Venice, La. If you’ve never been, Venice sits near the bottom of the Mississippi Delta and it’s one of my favorite places to go an unwind.

They call Venice “The End of the World,” and that’s just what it feels like. There’s one road in, one road out. There’s not a lot of people down here, and there’s endless miles of marsh with fish and birds and wildlife — everything I like to do in life.

Everything bites, everything’s mean — and everything tastes good too.

I’ve been fishing Venice for two to three weeks out of the year for several years. I do mostly marsh fishing for redfish and speckled trout. In past years, I’ve fished offshore for tuna, but you get tired of reeling in 200-pound fish.

Since the Bassmaster Elite Series wrapped up, I’ve guided a lot on Lake Fork and other lakes, but I’ve tried to work in a lot of personal time including fishing and hunting. This time of getting away is a huge part of a professional fisherman’s life.

It’s a release from thinking about all the sponsorship details, worrying about motors and boats, map study, getting ready for a new season and everything imaginable. It’s just a good way to get your mind at ease before we go back to work.

I kept it pretty diverse this year. I did a bunch of alligator gar fishing with my dad, I went hunting in Oklahoma. I did a little bit of everything. I actually got to take fellow Elite Caleb Sumrall with me to Oklahoma for a week, and it was literally one of the best hunts I’ve experienced. We shot ducks, geese, deer, coyote, a bunch of pigs — it was a great time.

I’ve also done a lot of filming with sponsors. A big part of our downtime is spent handling contracts and negotiations, so I’ve devoted several weeks to that — along with taking sponsors fishing.

I’ve definitely stayed busy this fall, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about fishing Elite tournaments. No doubt about it — it’s on my mind. If you’re addicted to it like I am, you’re thinking about it 24/7.

I could be sitting anywhere and thinking, “What am I going to do at the St. Johns? — What am I going to do at the Mississippi River?” You’re constantly thinking about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to catch them.

A big part of that, of course, is making sure my tournament boat is rigged and ready. As of mid-December, my boat is mostly finished; I’m just waiting on a motor and a few electronics. I should have it all done by January. 

While I’m waiting on my tournament boat, I have another boat that I’ll take to Lake Hartwell right after Christmas. I’ll put in some time looking around the Bassmaster Classic waters before shifting all of my focus to the 2022 Elite season.

After winning Elite trophies in each of the past two seasons, I’m eager to get out there and put myself in position to earn a third one. I believe there’s room on my mantle for another one, but I’ll stack them on top of one another if I have to.

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