What If….

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Every day is filled with so many decisions. What am I going to wear today? What do I want for lunch? What about dinner? Decisions, decisions, decisions. And there are so many what ifs every day. What if I had made that left instead of turning right? What if I had gone up lake instead of down lake this morning? What if I hadn’t gotten all that turkey? So many what ifs in every day and all year long.

2018 was the year of, what if it hadn’t rained so much. The rain has really been a blessing for so many of our local ponds, as some are at record highs. I know for a fact that one pond I fish, was extremely low from the last couple of years. I was fishing on a sand bar that had a stump on it that was 4 foot high. I watched as the water slowly rose until it finally covered it. And then we got dumped on hard and again the water level rose. For the first time since I have been going there, the water is going over the spillway. And that stump, it is now under 3 feet of water.

But the abundance of rain has played havoc on fishing tournaments. The rivers have been so dangerous at times. Tournaments have been forced to be postponed or out right canceled. This was done by tournament directors who had to make that hard decision based on angler safety. Sometimes, the decision may not look great, but it is the what if that they have to look at. Second guessing after the fact is easy. But what if an angler went out on a flooded river and got killed? What if?

My 2018 was filled with so many what ifs. What if I had not attended my 1st ever Bassmaster Classic. It was one of the most amazing events I have attended. I got to meet so many friends from social media, rubbed elbows with the Elite Pros, and got to meet so many amazing companies and see their products. And then there is the getting to meet and talk with anglers that got to watch one of the Elite Anglers grow up from a young kid to a competing Pro Angler on the Elite Tour and his 1st Bassmaster Classic. If you have never been to a Classic, make plans to go. Bring the kids and live the excitement, you won’t regret it.

Locally, there are so many opportunities to meet Pro Anglers, from the Richmond Fishing Expo to the Bassmaster Opens and the FLW Costa tournaments, to the Augusta County Fishing Show and Anglers Choice Open House events, the perfect place to come learn and ask questions. And it is a great place to meet fellow anglers and make friendships. They are also a great place to find some amazing deals. What if I didn’t go? I would have missed the opportunity to talk with John Crews and get tips on how to fish his signature Little John series of baits and so much more. What if I had missed talking to Jonathan VanDam, Wesley Strader, Ott Defoe, Gerald Swindle or any of the local anglers who could be competing easily. What tips would I have missed? What if?
2018 was a year of many firsts and grand adventures and so many missed opportunities. From fly fishing for the first time in one of the mountain streams in Virginia, exploring so many new bodies of water, fishing with amazing friends, and so much more. I am blessed to have such an amazing best friend, Tiffany Risch. She loves fishing as much as I do. And to think, our friendship was a what if. What if I had said no to having her as a blind partner fishing in a tournament. What if she had said choose someone else. We have shared so many amazing adventures in 2018 and she has helped me grow as an angler and as a person. What if?

I have been blessed to work with so many amazing organizations in 2018. The Rappahannock River Valley Wildlife Refuge Friends group, CAST for Kids, The Reel American Heroes Foundation, and do so many wonderful events. While the rains caused a lot of events to be canceled, the rain didn’t stop them all. I missed out on the Go Wild event, the rain left the field too wet to use, the Free Kids Fishing Day at the Wilna Tract was rained out, but CAST turned out to be a perfect day. The Free Kids Fishing Day at Port Royal was another huge success. The Reel American Heroes Foundation tournament was a huge success and so many of our wounded warriors got to enjoy a day of fishing therapy. What if? What if I had decided to skip these events? I can honestly say that skipping them has never crossed my mind. Giving back to our youth and warriors is so important to me. Seeing the smiles on their faces is so rewarding.

And then there are the what ifs while fishing. What if that huge bass had gotten a little closer before coming loose? What if I had decided to not fish that pond on that day? What if I had gone to the upper lake not the lower? What if I had made the decision to change baits sooner? Was that bass I missed a new personal best?? Would I have still caught an 8 pound bass? Would I have caught more or less fish? Would I have caught bigger fish? What if?

Life is full of so many what ifs. It isn’t about debating over what could have been, it is about making the most of every day. It is about knowing that things happen and it is up to us to keep moving forward, never letting the what if drag us down. It is about learning from our mistakes and making a difference. Our passion, fishing, isn’t about keeping it to ourselves, it is about sharing it with others and with the next generations. What if we got up and went forth changing lives everyday. What if we gave a child the opportunity to learn to fish? What if?

I am so glad that I don’t let the what if determine how I live my life. The what if fear of failing has kept so many talented individuals from doing what they were meant to do. What if I had let my fear of writing keep me from what I love to do, sharing so much with others? What if my fear of public speaking kept me from sharing my passion with kids? So much joy I would have never known because of what if. What “what if” is holding you back?

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