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End of Season Reflection and Opportunities for Next Season


  Well it's that time of year again. Temperatures are dropping all over the country, Championships and Qualifiers are coming to a close, and most fish are being a little more stubborn than usual. Okay okay, I won't be a downer. As I look back on this season, it was a very limited one for myself. I was handling, as best as I could, the care of my father (RIP Pops) who passed in May. That was my focus for 2018, Family first. So for me, fishing took a much appropriate backseat this season, however, that didn't mean I missed chances to be on the water. Fishing has always been something my father and I shared. He had me fishing in my play pen from the bank if that tells you something about myself and why I love this sport so much. When taking care of him, all I wanted to do was get him out of that bed and take him fishing. That was the least I could do for as many times as he had me on the water with him. We talked a lot about fishing and he kept high hopes that we would be able to get back on the water again when he felt better. God had a different plan. I did, however, get to take him fishing a few times and I was there when he caught his final largemouth, his final crappie, and his final smallmouth. The crazy thing about that is my father's favorite number is 3 and his favorite fish to catch were largemouth, smallmouth, and crappie. I will forever cherish our final fishing outings and how they went down.

  I did fish some local derbies and Dad was the first person to ask how it went. We talked a lot about fishing, tournaments, baits, techniques, and life. After he had passed, I went back out on my boat. I drove to his favorite tree row we had fished numerous times, but I couldn't make a cast. I sat on that front deck facing the rear where he sat for a few years since I took over the front deck and cried so hard I most likely spooked every fish and animal around for miles. I realized, the man who taught me everything about fishing wasn't there. It was weird and lonesome. Then after about 10 minutes of heartache, a big largemouth had jumped, thrashed, and disrupted the water something fierce. I knew then, that was Dad distracting me and telling me what he always told me to do in tough times "Just Go Fishing". Fishing clears my head and helps me compartmentalize life events, It always has and always will. So, I picked up my flippin' stick and went to work on that same tree row. I was still very upset, but with every bite I could feel dad's presence. And to this day, every time I get in my boat, I look over at the passenger seat (before my co-angler gets in there) and say "Ready to Go Fishing Pops".

  I'm sure most people thought this was going to be a very informative article and we'll get to that, but I just wanted to bring some reality into this last piece for 2018 from me to hopefully shed some light on a couple of things. 1, Family First. 2, Do NOT take one moment on the water or in life for granted. 3, Enjoy being out fishing because it could be the best medicine for heartache and tough times. Of course, I'm still dealing with a lot from my father's passing, but of course he would want me back on the water and so I did. I didn't get a chance to fish the high profile circuits I usually do, but I did fish a lot of local events and let me tell you, it was fun and I did make out pretty good.

  There is a lot going on in the fishing community right now and for 2019. When asked about it all, I just keep an open mind and I am always ready to adapt. I feel the fishing world has numerous opportunities for the future and that's always positive. I'm actually looking forward to 2019. It'll be good to get reconnected with some buddies, sponsors, and fishing.
Some of you may read this and say, "Well, that wasn't a lot of data" ha-ha. But, to be honest, the biggest opportunity we have is to keep an open mind going into 2019 and "Just Go Fishing."

-Nick Butler

Z-Man Pro Staff

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