Part I – Introduction
I’ve always tried to keep the politics and business side of fishing out of the public eye. But to be honest, it’s not all fun and games when you fish full time. I won’t lie, now that I’ve finished my first year fully dedicated to earning a living in the fishing industry, I would really rather not go back to 9-5, but by no means is this an easy living. But I will also admit that I didn’t know 100% what I was getting myself into when I started down this road. And it’s that unknown stuff, the stress I never talk about, and the behind the scenes of my life that I have decided to share now. A return of highs and lows in a sense, of water under the bridge.
If you are one of the few who know me well, and overheard me say to someone “Yeah I am very lucky to live the dream”, then you’d know there’s a pinch of sarcasm in that. Nobody gets paid to just “fish”. Anyone who thinks otherwise is sorely mistaken. The amount of marketing work that takes place is much more demanding than people think. For me, I had a horrible wakeup call in December of 2014. I had been working in the mental health field for close to ten years, was one of the youngest ceos in NY, and had established a reputation for myself in Upstate NY as one of the most respected advocates for the mentally ill. But I knew that my heart had taken me in a different direction after my dad passed away in 2012, and I wanted to leave that part of my life behind and focus on fishing full time. I was burnt out, tired of the politics, and really tired of being tired. So I made the decision in September of 2014 to leave mental health. To put that into perspective, I was also walking away from a huge salary, 8 weeks vacation, all the benefits, life insurance, contacts. I essentially took off my cape, and left it in a dumpster for a new superhero to find. But it also means I put my family in a place where we wouldn’t have the same security, and frankly, it was scary as hell.
All that became more significant with a phone call I got the day before Thanksgiving, 2014. Weather Undergound, my title sponsor for that year, had just let go of their Director of Marketing after a merger with The Weather Channel. Being that he signed me, the news of my champion leaving was really scary. And the phone call I got informed me that I was to be let go as well.
Wow. Still sucks thinking about it. I loved WU for years, still do. It was my dream to be with them. But that scared me to death. If I could lose my title sponsor that easily, and if JT and Gagliardi and guys like that could lose their’s, I needed to find a way to make sure that never happened again. So rather than being a part of the marketing wheel, I decided to try to be more of the wheel itself. So I began looking for deals that allowed me to be in charge of the social media, marketing, copywriting, anything fishing related that would allow me to work from home or on the road. I did brochures, catalogs, I ghost wrote for people, I did video work, I guided, I was hustling my ass off and learning on the fly. And every time I thought it would get easier, it would get harder, and harder, and harder. I would get another deal, and they wouldn’t pay, people would pay late, so my bills would be late, and it was like I couldn’t catch a break. On the water I was on fire, but off the water it felt like things were falling apart faster than I could try to hold them together. There was family drama, friends disappearing, and I kept feeling like it was all I could do to get through two more days until I could get on the water, catch another giant bag, and write about it so the world would see that no matter it threw at me, I would still out fish everyone else. I’d spend a day on the water with Elite Series Pros who would look at me at noon and say “Dude you are whooping me bad”. And I knew I would. But off the water, I was a mess.
What I want to do next is tell my story of 2015 so that people get to see what it’s really like for me. Not that my life is like every angler who fishes the tour, but what it’s like for me, and the things I deal with. I want to try to be as honest as I can, not just to the world, but to me, too. Own my mistakes, and let go of the negative I’m carrying. I want people to know who I am, not just what I am. So if there are specific things you want to know, you can ask them in a comment and I’ll try to answer them in each part.
Thanks to my family, my support, my incredible friends, and the companies who have supported me past and present.
Water starts flowing soon with Part II, and the beginning of my dream season at The Bassmaster Classic, Lake Hartwell.