Short version: After this season he's retiring from top-level competition.
Had Kevin on my list to call because he's been fishing well (finished 5th in the points last year) and because the Bass Pro Tour is going to 5 fish, aka his wheelhouse. Then yesterday happened – he announced he's retiring after the 2023 season. So my list of questions changed! Here's 5 + 1 with him, then 5 fun ones after that:
1. How long has this been in the works?
> "I've known this day is going to come. I've talked about it with some of my friends and fellow competitors for years, but it really came together pretty quickly.
> "In talking with my wife and family, and then a few key people...I wanted to do it before I started the year. I want to be able to do the sport and my fanbase justice – to show them the appreciation that they've shown me over the years...so I wouldn't just finish the year and quit, walk away."
2. Since you're one of the most competitive people on the planet, I gotta ask: What are you going to do to be competitive? Pickleball??
> "Nope [no pickleball]. We do a lot of lot of other things – throw bags, play Texas Hold'em. I'm definitely competitive in everything I do. I'll still be fishing a lot, but I will do a lot of other things. I don't know 100% but I'm sure not just going to sit in a chair.
> "I'm not retiring, believe me. And I might be busier than what I am already, at least for some part of it, you never know. I'm going to continue to be a promoter, spokesman, ambassador, influencer, whatever you want to call it...."
3. Are you gonna run people off spots and tell them "they're not part of the community" just for fun? 😆
> "You never know. I like to have fun."
4. Will you still design baits for Strike King or is it too early to say?
> "Absolutely. Thats a company I've been with forever and we still have a lot of stuff in process there right now. They're like family to me. That relationship is only going to expand."
5. If you were going to retire to a lake like Denny did, which one would you pick?
> "Oh gosh, I couldn't do just one. I think a lot of these guys do it so they can fish year around. ...I would like to have a smallmouth lake and I love the Traverse City [MI] area. It's gorgeous and has a lot of different lakes. That would be my summer haunt.
> "And then gosh – I love a lot of places in the South. My Southern choice would be tough. Guntersville is a place where I have a ton of history, also Rayburn and Toledo, and I love FL lakes. I love Okeechobee. That's probably my favorite FL lake.
> "The problem is we have to have a place Sherry would like too. There's not much excitement in Okeechobee so I know she'd shoot that one down."
Bonus Q: Are you gonna be mad at 'em this year? Maybe extra-mad at 'em??
> "I don't think any of that's going to change, but I won't over-pressure myself either. I want to have fun.
> "And I'm going to definitely take a moment to appreciate sunrises and sunsets on the water, and the places we fish. One of the greatest things about being a competitive angler is we get to travel around and fish the best bass fisheries in the country. And most people wouldn't do that if they're not in that tournament....
> "I think that's the biggest thing. The older I get, the more I appreciate things that earlier in my career I wouldn't even pay attention to – the sights, the sounds, the people."