Fishing is a huge part of my life. There are lots of moments on the water that stand out when I look back across 2022. By the Grace of God, I rediscovered the joy I had for fishing I had lost several years ago. I also made some great memories with my longest-standing fishing partner, my dad. We won a couple local tournaments but more importantly, we’ve both learned to enjoy the time on the water together whether we catch them or not… but it sure is fun to catch them.
I also made several memories with my newest fishing partner, my girlfriend. I got to introduce her to tournament fishing and have really enjoyed seeing her learn about the sport that means so much to me. I also returned to tournament coverage and have had a blast reconnecting with some of the greatest anglers in the world; anglers who treat me like family while I’m on the road, braving the elements and battling alongside them to capture the moments as they capture the fish.
But 2022 is a wrap and now it’s time to look onward into 2023.
I’m going to set some New Year’s resolutions I truly intend to keep. I’m going to take a look at some things I’d like to do differently this coming year.
As I heard it put by some wise individual along the way (and restated by my lovely girlfriend), “If you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time”.
So here’s what I’m aiming for in 2023.
Share my love of fishing with more people
I used to hate it when people asked me to take them fishing. I know that sounds terrible. But for a few years there, I didn’t really like fishing all that much anymore. I was looking for my identity in it; I had put too much on it.
I was relying on fishing to sustain me, both as a hobby and as a profession. So when people asked me to take them, as they often did, I found myself in a weird spot where I was trying to explain to them that I didn’t even want to go fishing alone, much less take someone else.
I was bitter and discontent. I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is. However, as God has gotten ahold of me over the last couple of years, He’s really reshaped me in a lot of ways. He and I have a lot of work to do still but I’ve found a much sweeter spot for the idea of taking others fishing, especially novice anglers who still have a whole lot of excitement in their eyes every time they get a bite. It’s invigorating to see them set the hook and fight a fish. Though I’m taking them fishing, I find that I’m having just as much fun watching them fish.
It’s also been really beneficial for my career. These anglers haven’t had as much of an opportunity to spend time on the water as I have. They often ask me really elementary but intriguing questions that make me think about why I do the things I do. As I explain these things to them, I come up with all sorts of ideas for content. So what started out as a selfless act has turned into a win-win situation for me and the angler. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Get back in a kayak
A few years ago, I really got into kayak fishing. I heard others talk about it ad nauseam. And, as previously stated, I was very bored with bass fishing as a whole at the time.
So I figured, why not? Let’s give a kayak a try. And I loved it!
The romance was short lived. I was still relying on fishing too much for my fulfillment. But the six-month love affair with kayak fishing was far from a flash in the pan. I didn’t get into the motors and graphs and big-time tournament fishing side of things. Not that I had anything against it but that was what I was trying to get away from by getting into a kayak.
Instead, I stuck with a paddle and a couple of rods and just went fishing. I fished ponds, lakes and creeks. I went on a camping trip for a few days out of the kayaks with my dad. There’s just something more primal about fishing from a kayak. The challenge of it made each bite that much more exciting and rewarding. I just loved every minute of it.
The kayaks I had at the time I had borrowed from a buddy. I’ve been focused this last year and half on paying off a lot of debt, so I haven’t been able to buy a kayak of my own. But I’m about ready to buy me an affordable kayak, strap it to the roof of the ’99 Buick Century and hit the road again in search of a little hidey hole to dump the boat in. I’m really looking forward to getting back into a kayak in 2023.
Fish Florida more
I’ve been fortunate to travel the majority of the United States and I’ve fished from the California Delta to the Great Lakes and all the way down into Texas and Florida. No place tickles my fancy more on average than fishing in Florida, with Okeechobee being my explicit favorite of all.
There’s just something wild about fishing in Florida. Most of the lakes and rivers are blanketed with shallow-water vegetation. The legitimate shot at catching a double-digit bass on any given flip means that you better have heavy gear in hand and be on guard at all times.
This close-quarter combat with legit giant bass, all while wearing flip flops any time of the year, makes Florida such a special place to fish. That’s why fishing more in Florida is right in the middle of my top-five fishing resolutions for 2023.
Fish more new lakes
Some of you may not know it but before I started working in the fishing industry as a writer and general content contributor, I actually got my start fishing tournaments. I fished competitively in college at Auburn University and competed in several mid-level tournaments for a few years after that.
The thing I liked most about this time in my life was getting to fish new lakes I had never been to before. I love the challenge of dumping the boat into the water with little to no prior knowledge about the fishery and simply going fishing. In fact, the less prior knowledge the better. There’s nothing more rewarding in fishing than just going fishing and figuring them out.
Now that my tournament fishing mainly happens near the house around central Alabama, I find myself returning to the same familiar haunts and running the same old milk runs. So I don’t get to discover new fisheries in tournaments. My job as a content creator for several different publications means that I need to do the most I can to guarantee a picture fish when I do go fishing. So rolling the dice on a fishery I’ve never been to hasn’t made much sense lately.
But, fishing isn’t always about making sense. Now that I’m doing this job full-time for a living again, I have more time to dedicate to fishing. So in 2023, I’m going to get back to mixing new waters into the rotation more often.
I used to have at least one camera going all the time. I was one of the first to get into filming and fishing on an amateur level. There were a handful of professional anglers with TV shows that obviously filmed their fishing and a few true OGs like Mikey Balzz out there grinding away with a tripod-mounted VHS camera. But this deal now where every angler on the water has a GoPro rolling… that’s all relatively new.
I first saw Bassmaster Elite Series hammer Brandon Palaniuk filming his fishing trips with a GoPro, which led me to buy one in 2012. I immediately fell in love with the practice of keeping a camera rolling at all times on the water.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, we’ve gone a little overboard with the selfie stick-carrying, social media-focused, self-centered, meta-whatever world we’re living in now. But creating fishing memories is awesome. Capturing them to be able to relive later and share with others is even more awesome. Chronicling those moments with loved ones that only happen once? That’s priceless.
But it is a little bit of a hassle to keep a camera going all the time. Somewhere along the way, I lost my passion for it as my passion for fishing in general faded away. But there are dozens of moments over the last few years that I’d give a whole lot to have on file. So, getting back to filming is one of the things that I really want to do in 2023.
These aren’t hard and fast New Year’s resolutions; those rarely work anyway. I’ve been saying I’m going to lose 25 pounds for 10 years now, some of which I have lost (and found) several times.
No, these things are more doable and will likely be more rewarding than many of the resolutions I have made over the years out of vanity or greed.
This year, the focus is on having fun.
On building relationships and enjoying the blessings with which I have been blessed.
On living life and documenting a little of it along the way.
I want to spend this year loving on people… my people. And making lots of lasting memories along the way. I highly suggest you do the same.