Off Season Is No Time For Rest: It’s Major League Time!

The so-called “off season” is in full swing and to say I’m staying busy would be a huge understatement. It’s funny, I always look forward to a break from the running all year, but when it finally gets here, I remember everything that has to get done before the end of January and I always realize how I really never get that anticipated break after all…It’s quite the opposite actually. Time to run!

The biggest difference these last few offseasons has been the little local TV show I started, which is now, unbelievably, going into its third season already. It’s called Erie Extreme and it airs in a few of the regional markets around home, like Erie, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and then later on YouTube. It’s a fun gig actually, but I have certainly bitten off as much as I can possibly chew by adding it to the off season craziness.

So as soon as the tournament season wraps up, I immediately begin editing 30-minute shows and have to submit at least half of them to the stations by mid December. There are 13 episodes in a season and each one takes roughly a week to finish each one. It is completely separate from my tournament gig, by design, and rarely has anything to do with bass fishing. The sponsors for the show are not “fishing” companies, they are local area businesses, who all share the basic desire to promote the area we live in thru a positive light…so that’s what we try to do, contribute our tiny part in supporting the Lake Erie region community and everything it has to offer. It is truly a blast and the people I work with are great!

The last 3 off seasons have also been “special” do to the fact that I left the FLW Tour to fish the Bassmaster Elite Series for 2 years, and now I’m leaving the Elite Series to compete on the new Bass Pro Tour and Major League Fishing. It has been a whirlwind of change, which I love, but it does add an element to the equation that never existed before. I wouldn’t call it stress really, it’s just the unknown I think, and the feeling of instability. Which brings me back to the off season rush and all the stuff that needs to get done in a short amount of time.

So here’s the running list:

  • Editing TV shows
  • Filming TV shows
  • Negotiating with sponsors
  • Talking with potential new sponsors
  • Signing contracts
  • Working on the new website
  • Testing new gear
  • Filming product videos
  • Filming commercials
  • Doing photoshoots
  • Doing interviews
  • Organizing tackle and equipment
  • Ordering new tackle and equipment
  • Ordering new boat
  • Selling old boat
  • Keeping up with MLF details
  • Designing truck and boat wraps
  • Designing and ordering jerseys
  • Installing boat electronics

I know I left some things out, but the best part about being home is getting to spend time with my family and attending my son, Mitchell’s high school band concerts and competitions and my daughter, Macy’s 6th grade girls basketball games and tournaments. This is what really matters and why I still love the off-season!

Right now it is 4:35am. I get up early, even though I am definitely not a morning person, because there are simply not enough hours in the day this time of the year. One slight issue about living where I live though is that when the sun comes up each morning, I see Lake Erie. The water is my front yard and the urge to go fishing is always right there staring at me. I hear boats buzzing down the lake, see people fishing, and it adds to my delima, lol. I have too much to do in the off season, no time to fun fish! Well maybe a day or two. How else can I test new rods and reels from 13 Fishing, new baits from Yamamoto and Rapala, new graphs from Lowrance, and all the other cool and unfamiliar gadgets that hit the market every year? Since we built our home on Lake Erie about 6 years ago, I have learned to discipline myself and fight those tempting urges from the Lake.

So at this moment, all the new boat and equipment issues are moving forward, all the sponsor negotiations are finalized, half of the TV shows are completed, and the 2018 boat is sold. I still have a lot of editing to do, but it’s finally time to start thinking about fishing a little bit. In the coming weeks I will get out in the garage to begin taking inventory and reorganizing everything I own. I have to spool up new reels and pair them with new rods, which in itself, takes a full day (unbelievably). I just got my new Toyota Tundra Platinum from Palmiero Toyota. They installed all the new goodies from Dick Cepek, Iron Cross and Royalty Core, but I won’t have my new Ranger Z520L until just days before the derbies kick off, so the last week of freedom will be a mad rush as always. I usually rig the boat while FastSigns of Erie is wrapping it at their facility. And I often pick it up on the morning I hit the road for the first tournament of the season, that’s literally how tight it has been. I anticipate this year to be the same…scary!

I have a couple of brand new, and BIG sponsors to announce very soon! And I’m super excited to have a new title sponsor, my first since having to drop Kellogg’s when I left FLW. I can’t wait to unveil everything, but I have to wait for the press releases to be officially “released”.

The off seasons are busy, but overall I enjoy this time. I like running and staying busy. This year is especially exciting due to the new tour. This is something I personally have been praying for since my rookie year…no exaggeration. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I feel fortunate that it’s happening while I’m still competing, and I plan to take full advantage of this (sort of) rebirth, or new beginning. The last couple years have been challenging. I’ve not been where I want to be and where I’ve been accustomed to being in the standings or the tournament results. I point my finger at a few major bad luck moments that would have changed everything, but I need to remember the hashtag I end all my social media posts with, and live by those words this upcoming season. “Make your own luck!”

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