At the end of every day on the water, a tournament angler charges his batteries. Ater ffinishing up the Bassmaster Elite Series season plus a few other tournaments here and there, it’s time to get back to normal family life and to recharge my batteries.

I don’t get tired of fishing tournaments or working with my sponsors — a lot of that goes on all year long — but after the final Elite event and before the GEICO Bassmaster Classic, it’s great to have a little time to be off the road and not have to think about things like campground reservations, packing for another event or coping with tough weather. No matter how much you love something, it’s nice if you don’t have to do it all the time.

Recharging my body is pretty easy because I exercise and eat right all year long. Recharging my soul requires my wife Lesley and my kids, Jordan and Spencer. Getting back in the groove of family life at home is the best part of the off-season. It’s great to be a stay-at-home dad for a few months and go to kids’ soccer games or running with Lesley — even though she says she’s faster than me.

Running is a big part of my off-season. I probably run at least six or seven hours per week, plus I stay really active doing push-ups, pull-ups and stuff with the kids.

Running helps me get in the right frame of mind. It not only helps to keep me in shape, but it’s a great outlet for my competitiveness. I love to compete, and when there are no bass tournaments, I use running to fill that void.

Lesley and I compete in a lot of 5K and 10K races. I usually do pretty well, and the last time we raced Lesley won her age group. I finished about 12 or 13 seconds behind her, so maybe she is faster than me … that time anyway.

And even though it’s the off-season, I still go fishing. But when I fish in the off-season, it’s different. There’s no pressure, and I go with my family whenever I can.

I always fish hard, and try to catch just as many fish as if I’m in a tournament. But when I’m fishing in the off-season I keep it fun, and I try to use the time to learn new baits and techniques. It’s tough to do that during the season. There’s just no time; I have to focus on what it’s going to take to be successful. I can’t use the time to gamble on a lure or method with which I’m not completely comfortable and familiar. The off-season is the time for that, so I do a lot of experimenting and learning.

I fish a little differently in the off-season, too. I fish faster and cover more water. I usually leave my drop shot outfits at home.

You may have heard this, but I don’t like to drop shot. I like to throw moving baits and fish fast. Drop shotting is work for me. I do it in competition, but when I’m fishing for fun, there’s probably not a drop shot rod in my boat. Surprised?

Of course, when you need it, there aren’t many techniques for catching bass that are better than drop shotting. I’d just rather do something else.

Of course, the off-season involves a lot of work, too. It takes a lot of preparation to get ready for the Classic and the next season. We’ll cover some of that next time.