My 2022 tournament season has officially come to an end. This year will certainly go down in my record books as one that offered some hard lessons.

On one hand, I absolutely hate not meeting my goals, which I certainly did not this season. On the other hand, the things I learned will serve me well in what I believe will be some of the most important years of my life and career yet to come.

With 2022 in the books, I look to 2023 with a renewed sense of optimism due to some big changes and life events that will surely change me forever, and surely for better.

Baby On The Way

The first big news is profoundly life-changing – Katie and I are having a baby girl!

Rylee Elisabeth Burghoff is due to enter our world and change the course of our lives on April 4, 2023.

I can’t tell you how many people have stopped to tell me “Well, everything is going to change now!” Yeah, I know things are going to be drastically different, but Katie and I both are pretty happy with the timing of this new addition to our family.

If this had happened five or more years ago, that sentiment would no doubt be different. Back then I was still scratching and clawing to pay the bills and make headway in a difficult career path.

Sure, I still have a long way to go to achieve my goals even now, but in the last few years I have begun to establish myself in the sport, have made some good money in tournaments, and have support from a great list of sponsors, which has helped me to achieve some financial goals that are obviously important when you are expecting your first child.

It would be hard for me to imagine being able to take the risks we took years ago with kids at home.

Now I’m ready – or at least as ready as a first-time parent can be – and I can’t wait to meet my baby girl.

Open Possibilities

The next big news, though it may take a back seat to a baby on the way, is that I’ll be making a big career change by going back to the Bassmaster Opens in 2023, beginning my journey to an Elite Series berth.

Make no mistake about it, I’m thankful for the opportunity to make a good living in the sport I love with Major League Fishing, and what was FLW, but I’ve been thinking about a change for a while.

When B.A.S.S. introduced the new Opens EQ format for qualifying for the Elite Series, where nine spots will go to only the top anglers fishing all nine Opens, I knew that it was time to make the change.

The Opens were always a hard sell for me before the EQ. Capturing a berth by finishing in the Top 3 in a division of 225 anglers is extremely difficult. My hat is off to those who've done it, but when I was able to make tour-level checks on the Pro Circuit, it was difficult to justify fishing the Opens. With the EQ everything changes, and the odds of qualifying for the Elite Series increase greatly.

Although I feel that from a long-term career perspective this move wasn’t a difficult decision, I owe a great debt of gratitude to the MLF organization, particularly the crew that I’ve known for so many years with FLW, and have fished over 90 events with. I’m thankful for all the opportunities they’ve provided me to grow in this sport while fishing the Pro Circuit the last few years. Although I won’t be accepting my invite to the Invitationals for next year, I will most certainly continue to fish their great BFL and Toyota Series events whenever I can.

Classic Dream

My decision to go to B.A.S.S. really came down to evaluating what I want for my future in the sport. I needed to remember what I dreamt of doing in the past, and that was to fish, and eventually win, the Bassmaster Classic.

Fishing the FLW Cup during my rookie season in 2019 was the closest experience I’ve had to the Classic. It was not only an opportunity for me to compete for big bucks, but it was a chance to share the scope of the sport with my family. I was very thankful to be able to fish that Cup, and to be able to share a moment with my mom at the red carpet gala, where she saw her boy on the big stage before she passed away later that year.

With the news that I am soon going to be a dad to a little girl, I started thinking not only in terms of where I could win the most money, but how could I give my family the equity in the sport that they will sacrifice so much for, and at this time that place is with the Elite Series and the Classic. The Classic is the opportunity to show my family that this is why we do this, and this is why we are a fishing family.

It has been my dream since I was a little kid to be on the Classic stage, and ultimately, that’s the experience I want to share with my family.

A Big Year

Yes, 2022 was a dud of a year from a results perspective. I just have to accept that I was not up to par with my performances. The only thing that matters is how I translate those hard lessons into future successes.

Sometimes change is all it takes to refresh your motivation and reignite the fire to new levels of intensity, and in 2023, there is no shortage of change.

With a baby on the way, my Opens registration compete, and my eyes on the Bassmaster Elite Series and the Classic, the changes are big, and the burning desire to get to work in this new chapter of my life and career is undeniable.

(Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is Bassmaster Opens 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).