Cliff Pace, the 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion, stayed abreast of the proceedings of last week's Classic at which he would've been the defending champion, but was forced to miss due to an injury suffered when he fell out of a deer stand in December. He certainly didn't obsess over it, however, as he continued recuperation and rehabilitation of his surgically repaired leg at home in Mississippi.
"I did watch the final weigh-in and saw (winner Randy Howell) have his moment, and that was good to see," he said. "That really made me regret not being there, but it's something I've come to terms with. Now I just look forward to getting back out there."
He said he's reached the point at which he's fairly proficient at transporting himself on crutches and the pain has begun to lessen. He hopes to get back into his boat by late spring and fish competitively at some point this year Ė event if it's just in a local derby.
He'll sit out the upcoming Elite Series campaign on a medical exemption and his 2014 Classic slot has been rolled over to next year's event at Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.
"I saw three doctors and two therapists trying to figure out a way to allow me to fish (the Elite Series) this year, but that wasn't going to happen. But I started physical therapy this week and on my latest X-rays, the plate and the pins haven't moved and my body hasn't rejected anything. You can see where one of the bones is starting to mend and the one that was crushed has started to grow back.
"As the pain gets less and less, I'm wanting to get out there more and more every day, but I'm at the mercy of the doctors and what they tell me. They don't want me to do too much before I can handle it."
The only fishing-related activity he's done since his surgery is sort through some tackle.
"I had my wife bring a bunch of it into the house and I had it all scattered around the table. I was just looking for anything to do to make the day go by."