May 5, 2014 by David Dudley
Editor's Note: The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW. As fishermen we are considered athletes. No less than ESPN has recognized this through its ESPY awards. There is no doubt that as we spend hours fishing, we undergo a lot of physical exertion throughout the upper part of our bodies. Truth be known, however, if a majority of fishermen was required to run a seven-minute mile I don't think many of us could do it. Something as simple as 10 chin-ups and 50 sit-ups would probably take us out! You get the point. Even for those of us who would perform such exercises out of pure competitive determination, the aftereffects would be horrible, and we probably would be bedbound for days. When I recall my back-to-back AOY titles, I also remember that I was in pretty good physical shape. I had gotten into a groove with a pretty good workout routine. I actually could stand to look at myself in the mirror, flexing my tiny muscles and acting like a body builder! Just kidding! But the point is I was in good shape. Following those AOY wins I got pretty busy with seminars, sponsor appearances, coaching trips, etc. More was demanded of my time, and my workout routine fell by the wayside. Gradually, I felt my body start to lose muscle mass. I could actually feel myself getting out of shape. In turn, my days spent on the water got tougher. I had no energy! Because there is no one weighing us on a scale before a tournament and because the effects of our getting out of shape come in a slow fade, we tend not to notice the progression of our decline. We can blame our fatigue on a long day. We can blame our sore arm or back on some former injury. Perhaps we push through the pain and exhaustion on the water and run on pure adrenaline, but ultimately there is a price to pay for that as well. We fishermen have come up with a million things on which to place the blame for a lost fish and a bad day on the water, but rarely does anyone ever hear a fisherman say it was because he let himself get out of shape. This all was driven home for me when I visited my chiropractor, Dr. Edward Bauchou Jr., in Lynchburg, Va., the other day. Dr. Bauchou is a very gifted and experienced doctor. Three years ago I had a pain in my elbow that would have made Mr. T scream like a baby, and Dr. Bauchou was able to work his magic and bring me right out of it. Three weeks ago I went back to see the doc for a very sharp pain that has developed in my back and shoulder that I know has been affecting my performance lately. First thing, he looked me in the face and said something that was like a punch in the gut. The truth of it is something we don't often hear as fishermen, but I want to sum up by sharing it with you. "Dave," he said, "you are an athlete, and you need to start treating yourself like one." Whether you make your money fishing right now or you want to pursue fishing as a profession in the future, I encourage you to look again at fishing as a sport and yourself as an athlete or aspiring athlete. Don't allow yourself to think you can perform at your best on the water even though you let your body fall apart while you're on land. See you at the gym. Follow David on Facebook and see his stats on his FLW Profile.