IMPROVE YOUR GAME, IMPROVE YOUR LIFE!
"I sincerely enjoyed it. I would recommended it as a good model and example that you can touch perfection in what you love to do as long as you do it in a correct and pure way."
-Rick Clunn (4-time Bassmaster Classic Champion)
Personal Best: Fishing and Life is a "how-to" manual built into an entertaining, fishing story. It's loaded with very real information proven to inspire you to improve your approach to fishing and/or life. This is a great place to start your transformation to your personal best! Follow along behind the scenes of tournament bass fishing as the voice in this angler's head wrestles with highs and lows, unexpected dangers, true friendship, lies and scandals in pursuit of his personal best.
File will deliver immediately after check out as a downloadable pdf.
Sample of Chapter One:
Maybe This Is My Day
My name is William. If you ask me what I’m thinking about right now, my honest answer will almost always include fish and/or ways to catch more fish.
* * *
The alarm is set for two hours before daylight, but it never gets a chance to sound. I take a deep breath and open my eyes, eager to get this day started. There are fellow competitors who opt for the extra sleep, but I like to have my boat in the water early–first, even. It’s funny how getting up for work every other morning feels like it’s going to kill me. I fumble around on the nightstand for the sticky, God-knows-who’s-been-touching-it, motel TV remote and turn on the local Weather Channel. Of course, I’ve been studying the weather constantly for the last several days on my iPhone, but watching the Weather Channel in the motel is an old habit.
I get dressed by the dim light of an underpowered, flickering bulb, saving my neatly pressed and hung, tournament day shirt for last. Some of the guys will have shirts loaded with logos of their sponsors. Many have logos merely to fool their competitors into thinking they have sponsors. At this time, I really don’t have many logos on my shirt–my father’s realty business, Maxon Group Realty of Wausau and D-Licious Hand Poured Baits, a mostly defunct company my brother-in-law, Doug has been working on. I’d feel silly wearing a bunch of fake sponsors, but to be honest, I think a lot about the day I have some real sponsors. It’s weird how closely sponsorship is tied to one’s perceived ability to catch fish, but that’s another story.
I unlock the front door and peer out into the foggy darkness. The cool air reminds me to throw a hoodie on over my jersey. Of course the hoodie is branded with a big Shimano logo, but that’s alright because they sent it to me for free when I bought three Chronarch reels a couple years back.
I like to back the boat in as close to my room’s door as possible so I can keep an eye on it overnight. For this reason, I usually end up staying in little “mom and pop” motels where this is an option. I know there are nicer rooms at the bigger chains, but I sleep better knowing the boat is close by.
The protective cover is dripping with morning dew, and leaves a cold, wet stripe across the front of my hoodie as I lean into it to unfasten the straps. Now comes the first tense moment of the day. I peel the cover back, and with just one hopeful eye, I peer into the back compartment where the big trolling motor batteries are stored. They need to be recharged every night for the following day’s activities. I open my other eye and breathe a small sigh of relief as I spot three green lights on the charging unit, indicating a full charge. Sometimes motel power outlets can be flakey. Sometimes a fellow motel guest can accidentally trip on your extension cord. It’s usually fine, but red indicator lights mean you’re screwed. Green is good.
Next I begin carrying my rods and tackle boxes from the motel room back out to the boat. This may be overkill on my part, but I’ve heard too many stories of boats being burglarized in motel parking lots. In a case like this, where the boat is right by the door, I don’t necessarily bring everything into the room–it depends on the neighborhood. Honestly, I have no way of knowing if the neighborhood is safe, but I make my best guess. As a precaution, I always bring in the six or seven rigs I know I’m likely to use on tournament day, along with an assortment of appropriate tackle. But let’s be honest–I know I’m going to throw a wackey-rigged Senko 90 percent of the time today. Hey, I’ve caught a lot of bass on that lure. I like solid black.
Another quick walk-through in the room and I’m on my way.
A glance in my rearview mirror reveals the first of my competitors emerging from their rooms. I roll through the first intersection, under the flashing yellow traffic lights and click on the radio. My presets don’t work in this town and a quick scan almost always lands on classic rock or country. “Gimmie Three Steps” just isn’t getting me fired up right now, so I opt for silence as I head to the ramp.
I sure hope that gas station I saw yesterday is open 24/7. Even though it’s chilly now, I’d really like to grab a bag of ice for the day. Not only will it keep my drinks and snacks cold, I can throw some in the livewell to keep the fish more lively. Weighing in dead fish comes with a hefty penalty, so I’m very conscious about my catch’s wellbeing.
It’s still completely black as I weave my truck and boat through the parking lot headed toward the four-lane boat launch. Random dots of red, green and white light, scattered across the lot and reflecting on the the water, reveal there are just a handful in the 140-boat field that feel the same way I do about an early start. Fine with me. I try desperately to avoid any feelings of anxiety or pressure to start my tournament day, so I avoid the chaos whenever possible.
Slowly but steadily I back my trailer down the concrete ramp until I see the back end of the boat just begin to float free of the carpeted bunks. I love the amber glow of the trailer’s submerged taillights, reminding me of the unknown world beneath the water’s black surface.
I climb over the bow and find my place in the drivers seat. The still of night is broken as my high-horsepower, two-stroke outboard motor comes to life and the boat slips easily from the trailer under her power. She’s only whispering–a reassuring, confident gurgle for now, but soon she’ll be screaming at the top of her lungs. She loves to scream. Once the boat is launched, the only thing left to do is wait. Carefully, I maneuver my way past the other boats.
The guy in the white Ranger recognizes me and we exchange nods. I put the boat in neutral, turn the key off and drift up beside him.
“Hey, Billy Boy!” he says.
“It’s William,” I correct him, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
You gonna leave any for me today?” he asks playfully.
“I just hope I can find five for myself. You’re on your own,” I counter. We’ve talked several times before but I’m drawing a blank on his name. White Ranger guy is what I have always called him in my mind.
He takes a loud, deliberate, slurping sip from his gas station coffee. “Get much time to practice?” he inquires.
“Got in Wednesday morning, but there was so much wind I was really just wasting time.”
He scowls and gulps down a mouthful of coffee while nodding. “Ugh, tell me about it. Crazy wind.”
“So have you got much going?” I ask, hoping for some last-minute clues.
“I’ll tell ya what,” he says, “I’d win this damned thing if it was a damn northern pike derby!”
Then he laughs deeply, like it was the first time anyone had ever said anything like that.
I laugh courteously. He really is a nice guy so I don’t mind laughing. But I know he’s finished pretty well in other tournaments and I’ll bet he’s on ‘em. I remember when Carl...that’s his name, Carl! Carl Marquette! I remember he won this tournament about six years ago. Yep, I’ll bet he’s got something figured out.
He finishes his coffee, rinses the cup over the side of the boat, and tosses the empty into his rod locker. “Welp, I’ve got a few things I need to tie up yet,” he announces, releasing me from our conversation.
“Yep, me too. Good luck to you today, Carl.”
“You too,” he returns.
I push off of his boat, fire up the big motor, and idle out into the growing crowd. I’m excited, but admittedly a little nervous. The competitors–each in their high-tech, sparkly boats–emit a buzz, an energy, that I can feel in my guts. Most move around unsettled, eyes darting about anxiously. It’s nearly unanimous that most would love to win today, but more than that, they just don’t want to be embarrassed. It seems like no time has passed when suddenly, daylight is deemed safe for travel and the boats begin to line up for the single-file launch based on the numbers they drew at the pre-tournament meeting last night. Suddenly, the noisy field goes silent as all motors are cut, everyone stands, and hats are held over hearts for a recording of our national anthem amplified by a bullhorn. When that’s finished the tournament director makes a few last-minute announcements.
“At my mark, the official time will be 5:58. And...mark. Now let’s be safe out there today.”
Motors are re-fired, as 140 small white puffs of two-stroke exhaust drift across the water. “Boat Number 1!” the director calls. Arms wave in a boat near the front of the pack. “Gotcha Boat 1,” he confirms, and boat one roars to life headed to its first spot. “Boat Number 2!” he continues. I watch this process repeat 75 times today, while I ease toward the front edge of the shrinking pack until it’s my turn. “Boat 76!” he calls.
“Right here!” I wave.
“Thank you, 76,” he confirms.
I scoot my glasses up the bridge of my nose, hang my hat on the boat’s gearshift, sit up straight, check for other boats and push my HotFoot throttle to the floor. The nose of the boat points momentarily skyward, until the high-performance motor lifts most of the hull out of the water and levels her stance. Then she begins accelerating hard.