“As some of you may be aware, an incident occurred at the recent Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula where a friend who was not fishing the event was caught on film attempting to intimidate a fellow competitor who was fishing near me.
“When it happened, I was not really sure how to handle the situation in that moment and by not reporting the incident to B.A.S.S. Officials it resulted in my day two catch being disqualified, removing my 7th place finish in the process.
“There has been some talk that the person in the video was hole sitting, or trying to help save the spot for me, and that is not the case. I was surprised when he arrived and started yelling at the other angler near me. I was not sure how to handle the situation so I just went on fishing. In doing so, I violated the part of the sportsmanship rules that require me to report an incident of that type. I was unaware of that part of that rule but not knowing it doesn’t mean I’m not responsible for following it.
“To be clear, I was disqualified because I did not report the situation to B.A.S.S. Officials, I was not disqualified for cheating in the event, I respect the sport too much to try and gain an edge by crossing lines.
“I was given the opportunity to have my appeal heard and to present my side of the story. The committee members were very open in the meeting and fair in their decision, I want to say that while I’m disappointed with the conclusion, I understand the reasons and will accept and honor the conclusions reached by B.A.S.S. Officials and the appeal committee.
“I want to also repeat publicly that I did not know that the incident was going to happen, nor would I ever want anything like that to be done on my behalf. I respect the sport of bass fishing, Bassmaster and the other fishermen too much to condone that kind of behavior. My relationship with B.A.S.S. and standing in the organization mean the world to me.
“As a young competitor, I have experienced some success and am very grateful for what fishing has brought me, but even with that success, I know that I have a lot to learn to become the pro angler I hope to be, and I will learn from this situation and grow from it. I will take this experience and move on to the next events with a greater respect for the sport of bass fishing and work to become the best angler and ambassador I can become.”