If I told you I had a blast at last month’s Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans, it would be an understatement.
If I were to tell you that last month’s Classic in the “Big Easy” was anything but easy for me, that would most definitely be an understatement.
Sometimes with the good comes the not so good, and that is what it was like for me at the Classic this year.
The best part about the Classic is the people. Whether it is the pros, the vendors, the media or the fans, they all have the same passion for the outdoors, and the Classic brings them together under one roof.
I absolutely love talking with new people and making new friends. I have been that way since high school, and the Classic always seems to cater to my outgoing personality.
A group of people who really ended up making my week special were the members of Team Topwater Clothing. The team basically consisted of younger anglers (many fishing the college levels), and of course the owners of Topwater, Brad and Liza Altman.
As a group, I can honestly say we probably had more fun than any other pro-staff team out there.
We ended up doing everything together – going out to eat, exploring the expo and, of course, hitting up the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. They were the perfect people to spend the week with in a town that I can honestly say you will find safety in numbers.
Also, as I noted in a previous column, this was my first year actually working at the Classic Expo. I ended up working with Bass Anglers Magazine and Topwater Clothing, and with the job came a license to talk, and talk I did. I ended up losing my voice due to the fact that I was meeting so many people and talking fishing non-stop, and I loved every minute of it.
Overall, this year’s Classic was a great opportunity to meet people and gain some experience working with sponsors at an industry show. I even picked up a new sponsor, Ouzo Baits, which I'm really excited about. It's yet another great opportunity for me.
This is the part of the column where I get a little “deep.”
The Classic has always represented the epitome of Yin and Yang for me. The expo and the socializing opportunities that come with it are always a lot of fun, but the actual event, I hate to say, is always painful for me.
As you know, I love this sport, and it has always been my dream to become the greatest competitor I possibly can become, and I have made a lot of progress over the years. Along with my progress, I have experienced an increasing level of confidence, and recently I have felt pretty darn good about the direction I'm heading.
That was until I attended the Classic’s final-day weigh-in.
I really didn’t expect it to hit me like it did in that arena, but as I watched all of the pros weigh their fish on the biggest stage in professional bass fishing, I was absolutely crushed.
It was like I was proudly taking my hard-earned report card home to mom and dad, just to have them tear it up and set it afire. It really put all the progress I have made in perspective.
When you work so hard and make so many sacrifices, it's not very fun when you put your own average progress on the same cull beam as the monster achievements of others. I ended up leaving the arena early, and I walked alone back to the expo to help Brad and Liza pack up the Topwater booth.
It was a long walk.
The Sweet from the Bitter
It took me about a week after the event to fully recover from my funk. For a while I couldn’t sleep. I could eat – I can always eat – but one day I ended up sleeping for like over 14 hours, and I woke up feeling pretty good about things.
In fact, I felt really good about things.
I realized that if I was passionate about this sport enough to be so affected by the final day weigh-in at the Classic, I obviously have the right amount of intensity to keep me focused and motivated on achieving my goals. I also feel that though confidence can be a huge asset in this sport, as in any, it can also be used against you in the form of complacency.
Over the last couple of months I was so confident that I didn't feel the need to try as hard in my preparation for tournaments. This lack of focus and work ethic greatly affected the first couple tournaments of the season, and I now realize that my own precious confidence was getting in the way of me realizing the simple fact that I still need to work to get to the top of this game.
I think getting discouraged is sometimes just a part of a person’s maturing process. Getting discouraged is just a way for your heart to tell you, “There is still work to be done, so get your butt off of those laurels!”
Now I know that I should still be proud of the progress I have already made, but there is nothing wrong with being hungry for more.
Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is a student at the University of Central Florida and an aspiring professional angler who writes a regular column for BassFan. To visit his website, click here.