Fishing For The Right Reasons

When Opportunity comes a knocking

Opportunity is a funny word. Initially, I think of a positive chance that will better my life. As I mature, not all opportunities are what they seem. If an opportunity persists, there may be a reason. If someone sells it hard or it seems too good to be true, it could be a distraction dressed up to look like an opportunity. This may sound basic, but how many times have you fallen victim to a dressed-up opportunity and not realized it until after? Hindsight is twenty-twenty, right?

Something Good Did Come From This

I’d like to make myself feel good and call last season mediocre, but I’d be lying. It was one of the worst seasons in terms of my performance. I put in the time on the water and worked hard, yet struggled to put together a good event. My fishing for my living model has been about consistency and cashing checks. When more opportunities arise, I take full advantage and climb the leaderboard. It’s not the best theory, but I’ve made enough money in the past to continue. If you’ve read this far, it might seem like a doom and gloom post, but bear with me; it’ll get lighter in heart. Let’s find out.

men standing in line with bags of fish to weigh

Let's Start Over

In recent weeks, I put my rods away, ignored social media, and focused on anything but fishing and next season’s prep. While attempting to regroup and refresh, I’ve fallen behind in planning next year’s season. However, it’s been good for me and I’m recalling the good that came out of last season. Two instances stand out – one has always been sold as a great opportunity and the other, an opportunity in disguise. 

The first instance was my involvement in Kurt Dove’s Pro Bass Camp. I’ve participated in a past session, but this year, my schedule allowed me to attend all three sessions. Two in Texas, and one in New York. These weeklong ordeals feature on-and-off-water instruction for teenage kids. As an instructor, I get the opportunity to share my passion for fishing and the outdoors with the youth of our sport.

The second was the Major League Fishing Toyota Series Championship. This event has always been dressed up as a significant opportunity because of how good your bank account would look if you win. However, not winning revealed a less publicized but possibly more important opportunity for me this year.

Fishing for the right reasons

These opportunities served as reminders of why I started tournament fishing in the first place. I love to catch fish. My love for fishing and competitiveness has been ingrained since my youth. At the Pro Bass Camp, I spent multiple weeks fishing with young anglers who mirrored my passion. Some were experienced, while others just thought it was cool to be on a bass boat and fish. Add in catching fish on topwater, a camp tournament, and a roll-through weigh-in in front of their parents and family, and you witness happiness and excitement for every aspect of the sport.

The Toyota Series Championship took place on Table Rock Lake. Like in many events, I  was catching fish in open water with forward-facing sonar. Interestingly, each day, the co-anglers I drew happened to be international anglers. One had experience fishing in the states, while the other was exploring and fishing in America for the first time. Their focus wasn’t on my fishing style; much like the kids at camp, they were fishing for the right reasons – competing wholeheartedly, regardless of the circumstances, even if the pro they drew fished in a way not conducive to co-angler success.

I saw the fire and passion in their eyes. These anglers, who had worked so hard to reach the championship, were determined not to let any memories go unnoticed. I got to witness their excitement and pride as they caught a few fish throughout the day. They knew they would, at the very least, have the opportunity to weigh in on a stage live streamed to their entire country, family, and friends thousands of miles away.

two men standing on a boat fishing for the right reasons

Reminder: It’s Supposed to be Fun

These events were stark reminders that this season, my focus has been misplaced. I’ve been zoned in on points races, qualifications, and trying to make money. I’ve forgotten the true reasons I love this sport. Rest assured, wherever you see me next season, I’ll be there for the purest reason this sport offers. Like the kids and international anglers I fished with, I’ll be fishing for the right reasons – to be the best competitor, to meet cool people, do exciting things, and catch as many fish as possible. Catch you next season on the water.

a man and teen boy on a boat holding up fish for a photo. Fishing for the right reasons
KYLE GELLES

KYLE GELLES

I’m an average angler who loves to tournament bass fish. I left home to chase my dream of competing full time against the best anglers in the country. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, and this is my behind-the-scenes story of life on the road, fishing, and learning a little something along the way.

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