As I’ve pointed out in this column before, there is a misconception that the sport of competitive fishing is a solitary one. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sure, when your boat number is called, you have nothing but your own instincts, skills and experience to draw upon to direct the course of an event. However, before you make a cast, and when the clock stops on tournament day, the people that surround you have the most impact on your overall success over the length of your career – and your life.
For me, as it is with many others, I find the most inspiration within my immediate family. To most people who are on the outside looking in, the obvious source of inspiration would be my father, who showed me what believing in yourself can achieve, as he realized his dreams as an actor through hard work, passion and dedication.
He's certainly is a source of great inspiration in my career, but there is one person who influenced me more than any other; my mother, Elisabeth. My mom was my biggest fan.
My mom passed away on Nov. 14, 2019.
Believing vs. Knowing
To me, there are two critical building blocks for gaining the confidence required to go after your dreams – believing you can and knowing you can.
Believing you can achieve something is the birth of a dream, akin to planting a seed. It's critical, but it’s only a first step.
Knowing you can, on the other hand, is something that requires constant attention and nurturing – like watering and caring for a growing seedling as it becomes a tree.
My mother was the one who always knew that I would become a professional angler. She was shameless and relentless in her complete confidence that not only could I achieve my dreams, but that I would.
I can’t recall a single time that she ever suggested maybe looking at a different career path, even when I was at my worst. She saw my passion for the sport of fishing, and she did nothing but nurture that passion.
No. 1 Fan
Before my wife, Katie, there was no other person who prioritized knowing when my next tournament was being held, and how they could watch every minute of it as it unfolded, as my Mom did. No matter if it was a BFL or an FLW Tour event, it was on her calendar and she wouldn’t miss it for the world.
She was also the one who would try her hardest to be at every event that she could – including the first and only FLW Cup I would ever fish.
At the Cup, despite a litany of health issues, she made sure she was there, from the banquet to my final weigh-in.
Each and every one of those events she would be there waiting when I got off the stage, with tears streaming from her eyes, and she'd say, “I’m so proud of you!”
As any son would be, I was often embarrassed by her raw emotion.
Now, I would give ANYTHING to relive just one of those moments.
I wish I could say that I knew how much my mom truly impacted my life before she passed. I guess on some selfish level I thought that I was the one steering the course of my life. In reality, my mom was the one behind the wheel with her unwavering faith in me.
With her passing, I feel like a part of me is missing that can never be recovered, but I also feel that through her years of guidance, I'm now equipped to not only believe, but now know that I can achieve anything.
I am so thankful that she was able to see me reach my goal of becoming a true tour-level professional this year, and was there in Hot Springs to soak my jersey with her tears of joy.
There will never be anyone like Elisabeth Bostrom. She was the source of my greatest qualities, as she was for countless others as well.
Thank you, Mom, for being the best guide to life anyone could ask for. You have done an amazing job helping me navigate my life and my dreams, and I think I’m ready to finally take the wheel.
I love you.
(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).