It’s true, the end of the 2013 fishing season is fast approaching. New licenses will go into effect soon, people up north begin preparing for winterizations, and the focus turns to 2014. So rather than look back in sadness, I wanted to share some of the more comical moments from 2014. The highs, the lows, the moments I shared with each of the people who were kind enough to share their time with me that either didn’t make the article for one reason or another, or that stick out to me. So here you are, my 2013 Year and Review, and 5 In The Box Outtakes, in no particular order, done “Jim-Root” style. 😉
My friend Tyler posts his new address as he officially begins his freshman year in college in a Facebook status “…in case anyone wants to send me food, money, fishing stuff…or money…lol”. Claire Ansley and I agree that she’ll use that address as her own when she’s asked by creepy guys where she lives. Cheers, Tyler.
A swim in the cold water of Smith Mountain Lake in April
It’s Friday night. Tyler Meadows and I make a bet with his brother Zach and roommate Josh Wilson, that the team with the smallest weight after two days will have to go in the water. Josh and Zach left Saturday night without saying goodbye. Moral of the story here boys, is that guys our age would never risk going in the water like that if we weren’t betting on a sure thing. They owe us a swim. #OlderAndWiser
Pictured left to right: Tim Hawley, Josh Wilson, Zach Meadows, Tyler Meadows, Jim Root.
Less than a month after winning The Bassmaster Classic, Cliff Pace is talking to me on the phone Sunday Morning while I’m eating breakfast. It’s incredibly kind of him. I can’t tell you how many people I reached out to asking to do this and didn’t hear back from. It meant a lot to me that he did that. Thanks, Cliff.
I join the team at Quantum
I sent out over 400 letters last year. FOUR HUNDRED. Ya know how many I got responses from? Five. But one of them happened to be from John Kushnerick at Quantum, offering me an opportunity to join them. It’s been an incredible opportunity to be a part of their team.
I fished with Randal Tharp at Lake Oneida. During the day he tells me how much it would mean to him to win the Forest Wood Cup. I say something like “maybe this is your year”. Then he goes out and wins it. Congrats, Randall.
Pictured left to right: Greg Pugh, Jim Root, Randall Tharp
My first ever “5 In The Box” interview is published. Thanks to Allison Shaw for spending the day on the phone with me. I had over an hour of phone conversation recorded where Allison talked to me about everything from paintings to guys she dated who turned out to be horrible. She was actually really sick before her first tournament of the year and was limited in her practice. Thankfully I didn’t get blamed for that. She’s really great to talk to. An hour will fly by.
I meet Brandon and we fish together on the James River in Virginia. Our day begins at 70+ mph in his Skeeter. We come into a corner of the river and he spots a guy in the water and quickly stops to see if everyone is ok. Somehow the man in the water had been thrown from his boat while driving. This stands out to me because as we stop, slowly motor over to offer help, and wait to be sure everyone is ok, no less than 25 other boats speed by, and nobody even slows down.
He’s extremely funny, full of energy, and an incredible angler. “I’m about to show these fools right here how to throw a square-bill” and with that, he throws his Arashi prototype underhanded, into a space about a foot wide between two trees, 20 feet away. He tells me about a saying he and his friends utter just before they tackle each other off of the boat. I remind him of that phrase when I see him in August at Oneida. He grins “Hey man that’s cool, just make sure you call it out”. I’m looking forward to fishing with him again.
The Potomac River
Little good came out of my FLW EverStart Event at the Potomac, but I was able to take my son on stage with me for the first time, and I met John McGoey, who’s since become one of my best friends on the Tour. I got to fish with him at Oneida for 3 days, and he is without a doubt one of the nicest and most giving people you will ever meet.
Because of time constraints this interview took quite a while to complete, and it was all done over chat through Facebook. I’ve seen her pictures, I knew she could fish, but I didn’t know she had a cummulative GPA of 3.78 while earning her Bachelor’s Degree. What I remember most was that she’s the only one who wasn’t aspiring to fish as a Pro on Tour. Her main goal was just to be able to fish out of her kayak and documenting and photography were her main focus. She, like Allison Shaw, got really sick shortly after this interview. Is 5ITB contagious?!?
I get a phone call at 9:40 pm from a number I don’t recognize, but it shows up as a California number. At first I’m shocked to hear from him, but it’s refreshing, and after 20 minutes or so, I see that he’s someone I can relate to, and it means a lot to me to hear him say certain things. My friend Timmy said to me that this sport is full of people coming and going all the time and that switching teams is a part of the business, but that’s not been the kind of experience I’ve wanted. Gary presented me with an opportunity to be with one rod company for my entire career. I can’t thank him enough. He, his family (yes, even you, Miranda), and the rest of the team at Dobyns Rods have been incredibly kind to me. Loyalty, appreciation, trust, these are not things you find in every company in this industry and the longer you’re in this industry you’ll learn that. So when you find it, cherish it. Just don’t ask Miranda to pick out the color of your son’s Jr. Pro Staff shirt for you…
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. John and I fished together at the Potomac river. While it wasn’t a day we could both celebrate on stage, we did find we had a lot of similarities; not the least of which being that we each lost our Dad within the last year due to similar illnesses. Even if I never fish again I know he and I will remain great friends.
I had been Facebook friends with Bridget for awhile but hadn’t talked to her, and then one day I read that she was freezing in Upstate NY! I spent more time on the water with her this year than I did with anyone else. We had some great times at Oneida, and I’m sure we’ll keep fishing together in 2014. There’s even a little friendly competition that’s starting to brew between her and I, and rumors of a title belt in the works…
I join the team at Bass Attacker Lures in March, and by the end of June we have my first product I help to design completed. We run a promotion on Facebook to name it, and settle on “Bass Snax”. Within a year this deadly little finesse worm has already won three tournaments. Oh, and most importantly, I smoked my mouthy little brother with it! 🙂
The most fun I’ve had doing any of the interviews that I did. She’s not what I expected. She’s a lot funnier and kinder than I think a lot of people would expect. At one point she says to me “It is sad that your little Yankee butt recognized rudeness rather than a “southern gentleman”.” I didn’t tell her she lost 5 points for hating on us Yanks. I’ll be sure to send that along. Oh, and FYI, to this day her interview is the most read thing I’ve ever written. But just because she’s beautiful and loves to hunt and fish does NOT mean guys should show up at her work or send her creepy stuff. Besides, we already know it’s gonna end up delivered to a teenage boy’s dorm room anyhow. 😉
Oddly enough it’s Tim Hine, owner of RahFish, that I have to thank for the opportunity to join Dobyns. I inquired about joining the team of writers at RahFish and Tim asks me to send him a review of Cashion Rods. At that time I’d been with Cashion for almost 3 years, and I felt really confident with my ability to write that article. Not only did it land me the place with Rah, it also delivered me into the land of Orange.
This was the first, and to this point, only interview I have done with someone who’s primarily not an angler. Teresa’s main focus is hunting, and while a lot of the questions were easy enough to reword, the interview itself was different because of the change of focus. She’s also the only fellow New Yorker I’ve (as of yet) had the opportunity to interview, and that was also really exciting for me as I felt it gave me an opportunity to share parts of this great state with the rest of the world. The thing I remember most about this piece was that she asked me to change one of the pictures that I used. Everyone I interview always sends me pics, gives me permission to take any I want from facebook, or does both, Teresa included. But when she viewed the finished product there was one picture I used that she felt didn’t fit with her vision for this interview. She sent me a different one, pictured below, but I chose to go with a different photo of her rather than this one (at the time). I don’t mind doing that at all. I want the people I interview to feel they’re portrayed fairly. With the women I’ve interviewed this year, it’s been really important that they not be objectified in a negative way. I’ve wanted to demonstrate that women can compete with men in sports and be sexy simultaneously. Hopefully that has been conveyed.
Casey was the only one I interviewed twice (I’ll finish up part two and get it posted next week). I wish I could just post a recording of my conversations with him, because they’re really funny when they happen, but sadly some of that humor just won’t translate onto type. The thing that I admire the most about him, is that nothing that happened to him this year; Circuit Breaker, fishing in his first Forest Wood Cup, winning his first FLW Major as a pro, changed who he is or how he relates to people. If you watch, he responds to every tweet, every facebook post, and he’s getting TONS! That’s really not easy to do. I mentioned that to him and he said “I was a fan first, I will always be a fan, and I will always try to do my best to be grateful and friendly to people who reach out and support me.” Amen.
My first youth fishing clinic
I was very fortunate to have had an opportunity to partner with Citizens Bank to provide a youth fishing clinic in my hometown. My goal was to eliminate all cost, so no child would be denied an opportunity to participate and learn an alternative to drugs, violence, or crime. Because of Citizens Bank, Roma’s Pizzeria, Friendly’s Ice Cream, and the staff at Cook Park, we were able to provide all the kids with gear, bait, free entry, pizza, ice cream, and coupons. It was an amazing day and I hope we can do it every year.
Hillary was another interview that took a couple days to complete over the internet. I was trying to wrap up Claire Ansley, Teresa DePalma, Callie Shumway, and Hillary all in the same two weeks. I remember thinking at one point “I should just combine them all into one”, but I didn’t want them to lose any of their individuality or for one to overshadow another. But to be honest, interviewing those 4 women at one time, was more than I bargained for. Thankfully they’re all very patient, a necessary trait for anyone who thinks they want to make hunting or fishing more than just a “hobby”.
Navionics and Drop Shotting
I write two reviews that are posted on corporate websites. The first is a how-to about Drop Shot, which is a technique that many people are unfamiliar with. The other was about the Navionics App for iPhone and Droid. I know this seems like a bit trivial to some people, but this more than anything else is something that my Dad would have really been proud of. If he can see it wherever he is now I know he’s smiling.
The world says goodbye to BBH
After a lot of bickering and bad blood, my best friend and co-owner of Big Bass Heaven and I decide it’s best that we dissolve the partnership, effectively leaving BBH in an unknown state. While I retain the rights to the store, the branding, and the website, it’s more than I want to handle on my own at this point. Who knows what’s in store for BBH in the future. But for now, all things Big Bass Heaven are put on hold, indefinitely.
Steph was really great when we did the interview. One time I tried her “eat pickles before you fish for good luck” trick and I ended up hanging over the side of the boat. Never again. But I do think she’s a sweet gal and I hope those pickles bring her happiness all around.
I guess what I’ll remember most when I think of this year is that it was my worst year ever in terms of my overall finishes in the tournaments I competed in, but I met guys like Charlie Evans, and Greg Pugh. I got to spend time with my great friends Zach, Tyler, Timmy, T-Live, and “Bassin Bill” at Smith Mountain Lake. I fished with some incredible people, made new friendships that will last my entire life, shared my knowledge and love for the sport with young kids, saw some of the most breathtaking places in the country, and learned some valuable lessons about this business. John McGoey told me “you can fish, buddy”. On an otherwise uneventful night in August I got an alert on my phone from Twitter “Brandon Palaniuk is now following you”. I held my son on stage while my fish were weighed in. My brother, Mike, said “I’m proud of you”.
I feel like the luckiest man in the whole world. And I didn’t win anything. I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring.
Be safe, be kind, and smash ’em!
Me and my son, JJ.
Smith Mountain Lake, FLW EverStart
This is how your hair looks after a full day of 70 mph if you lose your hat.
On stage at Oneida Lake, Bassmaster Northern Open #2.
The James River, Virginia.