The next time we visit, 2024 will be upon us. With the approaching New Year, I began thinking about resolutions. My personal intentions always seem to focus on wellness and triglycerides, but it’s my bass fishing resolutions that need some work.

I’ll fish more. I say this every year, but this time I mean it. For most of the last decade I’ve found myself fishing less each year. A credit to the backward thinking of American society, it seems the older we get, the less we do the things we worked so hard for. It’s a cruel joke. By the time you have the resources to pursue what gives you the most enjoyment, you run out of time.

I look to my father for inspiration. Once he decided to prioritize fun over fortune, he went all in. At 75 years old, the guy fishes more than anyone I know. Freshwater and salt. He owns enough boats to open a small dealership. One day he’s on the ocean fighting a tuna, the next he’s flipping a worm. It’s really inspirational.

So fishing will earn a high priority in ’24. Along with it, my place in the industry seems to be evolving, and I’ll embrace the change rather than fight it.

While I’ll still be operating Millennium Promotions, each year, the fishing industry gets more difficult for independent contractors. It’s light-years tougher than it was 20 years ago. Everyone’s a star thanks to social media and iPhones, creating a heck of a lot of competition that’s willing to give away their work.

It’s incredibly frustrating, but there’s no use harping on it. Instead, I’ll allow a bit more of my time to go toward a few select environmental initiatives I’m partnering with or heading. The bass themselves will be the beneficiaries.

It’s strange how these things seem to prioritize themselves as you get older. Perhaps my approaching 50th birthday is to blame. Or maybe it was relocating to what may be the most ecologically challenged state in the country. Most of Florida’s problems stem from massive growth and poor planning, coupled with some ludicrous projects decades ago, before we knew better.

Add it all up, and I feel the need to make a difference. Or at least try. You’ll hear more of this in ’24, after I sort through the rest of my resolutions.

First, I’ll be fishing for Florida’s biggest bass around select moon phases this spring. My travel plans are booked, and I intend to stick with them, regardless of a ringing phone or a full inbox. Here, I’ll use only two or three techniques – those unconditionally proven to be best for fish in excess of 13 pounds. Sorry, topwaters and chatterbaits won’t make the cut.

Staying devoted to the method can be tough. Hearing stories of 20-fish days while you go strikeless makes anyone jittery. But the instant you sell out, you’ve reduced your chances at the fish of a lifetime.

It will take strong resolve to trophy-fish for 20 days, no doubt. I hope I can hold out.

I’ve been working on my boat for the last couple seasons, and this year I’ll finish the build. A new Mercury recently joined the team. Pumps and hoses were refitted and replaced. Now all that’s left is a pesky wiring problem that shuts my electronics down whenever I flip a dashboard switch. Maddening. I swear I’ll fix this by Q2.

I’m continuing to get rid of gear I don’t use. Most often this falls into the lure category, but I also recently purged a bunch of transducers, wiring, GPS paraphernalia and the like. At one time I held onto this gear like gold. But the possibility of a new boat gets slimmer all the time, especially the more I work on this one.

2024 will see me continue to resolve my hoarding problem. More rods will have to go, along with gobs of jigs. I’ll throw away every frog that’s not a Spro. There, I said it. Not long ago, I sold a box holding 100 crankbaits for $200, and it felt great. Very liberating.

This year, I’ll fish more at Rodman Reservoir. Rodman is as close as I’ll ever come to a personal Holy Land; at one time, I told my wife to scatter my ashes there. Monster gators and bald eagles keep a watchful eye as time continues to stand still. I realize that my absence has been unhealthy. In order to cleanse my soul, regular trips to Rodman will be added to the calendar.

I’m going to take my neighbor fishing. I’ve avoided this for the better part of a decade. My neighbor, you see, likes to talk, and he’s apt to tell 30-year-old fishing stories all day. At one time, that bothered me. Nowadays, I see the appeal. I need to do this. Chances are, I’ll be thankful I did.

I’ll try my hardest to find a bass fishing podcast I enjoy. This has been a brutal quest. When building a fishing podcast, it seems impossible for hosts to stick to three basic principles:
1. Do in-person interviews. If that’s not possible, at least have a good connection.
2. Do not allow guests to plug sponsors.
3. For goodness sake, fire the yuckity-yuck comedian co-host.

Maybe this will lead to a final resolution that I’ll fulfill in ’24. Regardless, I’ll start easy.

The neighbor’s on his way over now. Wish me luck.

(Joe Balog is the often-outspoken owner of Millennium Promotions, Inc., an agency operating in the fishing and hunting industries. A former Bassmaster Open and EverStart Championship winner, he's best known for his big-water innovations and hardcore fishing style. He's a popular seminar speaker, product designer and author, and is considered one of the most influential smallmouth fishermen of modern times.)