The dust is finally settling after my rookie season as an FLW Tour professional.
It was a year full of great successes, including leading the AOY race with five events in the books, as well as some major speed bumps at the end where I bombed in the final two events to settle in at 15th in the final points.
Despite some obvious disappointment from my epic tumble off the AOY map, I learned some incredibly valuable lessons at Chickamauga and Champlain, which once applied, allowed me to post a 16th-place finish at my first FLW Cup.
With a little “unplugging” and some much needed family time, I'm back at the grind preparing for the 2020 season, as well as reflecting on how my life has changed over the past year and what I have to look forward to.
Anytime you have a couple of terrible events like I did at Chick and Champlain, your approach and overall performance at events that follow can either stop a slump in its tracks or wear at your confidence and breed more mistakes and missteps.
I viewed the Cup as an opportunity to put an exclamation mark on my season and to show myself that I’m not one to make the same mistakes I made at the end of the schedule.
Although I wanted a good showing, my definition for what I thought fit that bill was one where I went only for the win. At the end of the event, if I felt like I performed well enough to put myself in contention that was all I needed to show myself I’m capable of performing at the highest level.
With those standards in mind, I give myself an “A” at the Cup despite finishing a seemingly mediocre 16th overall.
That grade has nothing to do with the overall finish, but rather it has everything to do with how well I fished under the extreme pressure, my nearly flawless decision-making during most of the event, and how I rarely second-guessed myself.
I can honestly say that I put myself in contention to make the final day, but had some small execution issues the first day that resulted in losing several big fish that would have seen my limit be closer to the 13- to 14-pound range rather than the 7 pounds I weighed on day 1.
A lot has to come together to have a shot at winning any event, and sometimes it comes down to the uncontrollable factors that are the only thing that separates success from “failure.” In the case of the Cup, I certainly made some small mistakes – like not having a Hayabusa trailer hook on my buzzbait or Jackhammer ChatterBait when the fish were short-striking – but otherwise, I fished very fluid and followed my gut to get the bites I needed.
It was an event that I felt comfortable in, and I was proud of my efforts in the end.
Following the Cup, my wife, Katie, and I immediately packed our things and headed for our family cabin in Connecticut for a little family reunion and an opportunity for me to get off of social media and tear myself away from the hectic lifestyle I had been living all year.
The hustle that this sport requires in order to be successful and actually make a living at it has a tremendous impact on your ability to unplug, which is always difficult for your loved ones. This is why I’m really trying to learn how to disconnect and get a little “distraction detox” occasionally, to show my wife and family that they are still No. 1.
I feel like I did a fairly good job at putting the phone down and leaving the calls and emails unanswered for a week or so, and at the end of my time with family I was able to come back to my office with my list of priorities in the right order and the desire to get back to work.
Now that I’m back to the grind, I’ve got about a dozen things on the priority list, including getting my Nitro Z19 listed for sale (shout at me if you’re interested, lol), sending sponsorship proposals and booking campsites for the 2020 Tour schedule.
On that note, I’m also watching BassFan for the announcements that most of us have been hearing. The “speculation train” and “rumor mill” have been running full steam, but there is no doubt the announcements will bring some exciting news for the sport we love.
How it will affect me in the short term is yet to be seen, but it's my opinion that the kind of movement we are seeing in the sport currently, once stabilized, will bring positive results in the long term.
I do hope that wherever it lands, I will have an opportunity to continue building my skills at the highest levels, but only time will tell.
For now, it's business as usual, and thanks to my family, FLW, my sponsors, and all my supporters, business is going well!
(Miles "Sonar" Burghoff is an FLW Tour competitor and the co-host of the TV series "Sweetwater." To visit his website, click here. You can also visit him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (SonarFishing) and Instagram (@sonarfishing).