Well, I can honestly say I'm very satisfied with how things have developed lately. It's been almost 2 weeks since I dropped my trailer off at my dad’s RV resort and left Florida to spread new roots in Alabama.
Since I arrived at my new home that sits only a mile from Lake Guntersville, I've settled into a residence that's not on wheels, and I've also solidified some plans for the upcoming season, gotten some much-needed time on G'ville and taken a day to help out at Randy Howell’s Fishing Rodeo at Kampfire for the King.
The moment I pulled up to the new bass home base, I knew it was a good move. The place is located within a couple miles of several boat ramps and is perfectly situated for accessing several parts of the lake.
Aside from the location, the house itself is perfect for a tournament fisherman – or even a couple of them. There are two garages, one big enough for either a truck or smaller boat, and then there is the main garage, which is roomy enough for two full-sized tournament rigs with plenty of space to spare for tackle organization.
Another great aspect of the new place is my new roommate is Kevin Hawk, the 2010 Forest Wood Cup Champion. Having a roommate who has the same focus as me, I’m sure, will be very beneficial.
New Home Lake
Of course, the biggest reason my new home rocks is because it's on the shore of Lake Guntersville. I will admit, it took me a few days to get out on the lake. I wanted to move in first so Hawk wouldn’t have to deal with all my boxes in the living room.
Once I did get things a little organized, I jumped on the chance to start my education on this famed TVA fishery. So far it's been a matter of hot and cold – I either go out and catch over 20 pounds, or strike out.
Though my main goal is to learn the lake’s offshore structure fishing, I've found that the substantial amount of grass, even with the cold weather, has kept the majority of the fish up shallow, so the days I've spent graphing offshore haven’t been too productive. Then again, I should have expected that, since most of the bait is in the creeks.
The hot days have surprisingly come fishing really shallow in really cold weather. Even with the water temps in the mid-50s and the surrounding air temps near freezing, I have had just an absolute blast throwing frogs on the mats that remain on the lake. I've never had bass destroy a frog like that while I can barely feel my hands, and when I can see my breath.
My education continues.
Kampfire for the King
One of the coolest things I've had an opportunity to do in the past few weeks was to help out Randy Howell at his Kampfire for the King event, where I assisted children with catching fish at Randy’s Fishing Rodeo. The event was put on by King’s Home, which is an organization that provides youth, women, and children with refuge, hope and help with everything from abuse to homelessness.
The event was a complete success, with hundreds of people attending. It was also really cool to see all the local high school teams help out, too.
It’s All Coming Together
If you would've asked me 2 months ago exactly which events I was going to fish in 2013 and how I would be able to swing them financially, I would have just shrugged and said something like, “Things will work themselves out.”
Well, though I'm a self-admitted, hopeless optimist, and I had no proof that things would work themselves out. But fortunately, they have.
The biggest development in the last month or so is that Oakley and the Oakley Big Bass Tour have officially signed on to sponsor me moving forward. When I learned that they wanted to continue working with me, it was truly one of my proudest moments.
I'm so honored and excited, not only because they're truly great friends, but because I really enjoyed fishing their tour this year and have been using Oakley products ever since I was little, skiing and snowboarding in Northern California. Recently I've discovered a new edge with their High Definition Optics and industry-leading polarization technology.
The fact that they want to help me out in the beginning stages of my career is truly humbling and I will never forget it.
Other great news on the sponsorship front is I will now be officially working with Quantum, and will be fishing exclusively with their rods and reels. This is also very exciting because they're also a company that makes products I've used and believed in for a long time. In fact, one of my very first baitcasting reels is one I still use today, a first generation Accurist PT. For the most part I'll be fishing rods and reels from their new Smoke series, which I used all last season and am stoked to continue with.
The addition of Oakley, the OBBT and Quantum to my sponsor portfolio, along with some other ducks I was able to get in a row, has enabled me to solidify at least part of my tournament schedule for 2013.
So far I will be fishing the Southeastern EverStarts and all the Professional Anglers Association (PAA) events. If things go well during the first few events of the season and I find it financially feasible, I'll also compete in a couple Central EverStarts and all of the Bassmaster Northern Opens in hopes of qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic – which just so happens to be coming to G'ville in the not-so-distant future.
Needless to say, I’m getting pretty pumped up about the upcoming season.
Nervous or Anxious?
Though I'm really excited about 2013 and the tournaments to come, I am a little bit anxious. Or is it nervous? I really can’t tell which one it is.
Although I'm fishing better than I ever have and my confidence is up, I also recognize how big of a jump it will be going to the EverStart and PAA levels. I do feel that the experience that I've garnered through my FLW College Fishing and ACA career along with my regional and local tournament career has prepared me well.
I guess I'll just have to take my nervous and/or anxious feelings and use them to my advantage and just enjoy the ride.
In the meantime, I’ll be taking a little time off for Thanksgiving, which I'll be spending in Montana with some family. Needless to say, I have a lot to be thankful for this year, and I consider myself very lucky to have such great support from family and friends, which includes my sponsors.
In closing, I want to thank Oakley, the OBBT, Business Air, JetWorks Air Center, Lazer TroKar, Quantum, Angler Innovations, Secret Lures, Topwater Clothing, Navionics and everyone else who has been helping to make my dreams a reality.
Thank you all so much!
Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is a 2012 graduate of the University of Central Florida and the winner of the 2011 BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship. He's an aspiring professional angler who writes a regular column for BassFan. To visit his website, click here. You can also visit him on Facebook and Twitter.