No matter how good or bad a tournament season was, a new year brings with it new opportunity and a renewed sense of optimism. By no means was 2020 a bad year for me from a tournament fishing perspective, but with the proper adjustments and preparation, I have high hopes that 2021 will be even better.

In order to lay the foundation for a great season, there are quite a few things on my checklist before I make that first cast at the MLF Pro Circuit opener on Lake Okeechobee.

Getting the Branding Right

Each offseason, every professional angler has his own process for preparing for the upcoming schedule. However, one thing thatís universal is ironing out sponsorships.

Iíve been very fortunate over the last few years fishing the Pro Circuit because Iíve settled into a portfolio of partners I both enjoy working with and fully trust and rely onthe products they offer. Because of this, I really havenít had to pursue new sponsors, but rather have focused my efforts on providing more value for existing partners.

Once the contracts are signed, the real work of making sure these sponsors are represented correctly by dialing in the branding for the season begins. Designing jerseys and vehicle wraps are all critical Ė and often tedious Ė parts of the preseason checklist.

This year the biggest project has been designing a new truck and camper wrap for Battle Born Lithium Batteries. Though the process of designing such a wrap is a lot of back and forth, it has been a blast designing what I believe to be a really cool rig that I'm very excited to share with everyone once it's complete. Battle Born has been a great partner for two years now and I couldnít be more excited and honored to represent their brand in such a big way this year.

The boat wrap is also a big undertaking, but was made easier by the fact that will once again be the title sponsor of the boat wrap and it will be very similar to 2020ís design.

Finally, piecing together a jersey in time to meet the deadline has been very important, but has been made very easy by working with Valley Fashions Apparel.

Although getting the branding items checked off the list can be a challenge to accomplish in time for the trip to Florida, I must admit, itís one of my favorite parts of the process.

New Boat

One of the most exciting parts about a new year is getting a new boat, which inevitably will permeate the garage with that glorious scent of fiberglass resin and new carpet. Sure, getting a new boat each year makes getting ready for the season a little more complex, but I relish the opportunity to start off with a blank canvas and perfect the layout of my boat each year.

This year, I have ordered a Nitro Z-21, which will be the first 21-foot bass boat I've ever owned. Though I really enjoyed fishing from the Z-20 last year, and the Z-19 the year before that, I really like how Nitro has designed the storage of the Z-21, which ultimately led to my decision to move up to the bigger boat.

Once I pick up the Z-21, the real work will begin. Once it gets wrapped, I'll be spending several days at the headquarters in Knoxville to get all the rigging complete. This year, with the help of products like Battle Born Batteries, the Power-Pole Charge system, the new MotorGuide Tour Pro and a whole slew of different graphs, I have no doubt we are going to be able to design the ultimate electronics system.

Despite the fact that Iíd rather already be out there competing, the preseason process can be very enjoyable. It's a great opportunity for me to lay a foundation for my season and make sure my sponsors get the representation they deserve.

What 2021 has in store for me is somewhat a mystery, but by working hard on the front end, the season is much more likely to yield the results Iím looking for.

(Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is an MLF Pro Circuit competitor and the co-host of the TV series "Sweetwater." To visit his website, click here. You can also visit him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (SonarFishing) and Instagram (@sonarfishing).