Ask the Anglers: What are your plans for the holidays?

MLF pro Luke Clausen, his wife Kailin, and their daughter, Stella
MLF pro Luke Clausen, his wife Kailin, and their daughter, Stella

December 23, 2018

This year, Christmas came early for Major League Fishing. After the announcement of the MLF Bass Pro Tour in September, 80 of the world’s best anglers made a life-changing decision to fish with MLF fulltime and committed to the Bass Pro Tour.

With the premiere of a brand-new season of MLF on Outdoor Channel less than two weeks away (Jan. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. ET) and the inaugural MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage One in Kissimmee, Florida just five weeks away, 2019 will be nothing short of historic.

But in the final days of 2018, MLF anglers are taking a break from prepping tackle to spend time with loved ones for the holidays. We reached out to some of the MLF pros to find out how they’re spending “the most wonderful time of the year”.

Here’s what they wrote: 

Major League Fishing pro Josh Bertrand and family

Josh Bertrand

This Christmas, my family will be enjoying the sunny Arizona weather and relaxing before the busy season starts in January. We generally like to get together and open gifts on Christmas Eve and sometimes I’ll sneak out and do some fishing on Christmas Day. However, now with my wife Chantel and I having two little ones (3-month-old Parker and 2-year-old Emma), I’m pretty sure I will not be sneaking out to fish!

Major League Fishing pro Josh Bertrand and family

It’s been so much fun to watch Emma fully embrace Christmas. She is having so much fun with it.
We are making a tradition out of seeing Santa at Bass Pro Shops every year. Emma didn’t freak out this time so it was a success!

Zack Birge
We plan to spend time with family during the holidays and of course, hunt. I’ve always hunted with my dad Christmas morning then came home opened presents and ate. Now that we have Emma, we open presents early, eat and hunt in the afternoon.

Major League Fishing pro Zack Birge and Family

Luke Clausen

Major League Fishing pro Luke Clausen’s Daughter
Luke Clausen’s daughter, Stella

My wife Kailin, my daughter Stella (20 months) and myself reserve Christmas Eve for gatherings with friends and family. The three of us then spend Christmas morning by checking our stockings, followed with a family tradition of crab/egg casserole (a recipe passed down through generations of my wife’s family), and then moving on to our presents (all in our pajamas). The rest of the day is spent visiting more friends and family to open gifts.  

This year I will be leaving on the night of Christmas Day to join in on a waterfowl and deer hunt with JT Kenney, Jacob Powroznik, and friends in Virginia.

I will return home prior to the new year to celebrate our anniversary and New Years over the 31st, 1st, and 2nd, which has been a traditional three-day celebration since we got married on Jan. 2. Then preparation for the upcoming season begins!

Dustin Connell
Christmas for my family and I every year is mostly an outdoor event all week. Of course, we spend Christmas day together with family and friends, but going fishing or hunting with my brother is definitely in the plans every year. After traveling all season it's great to be home and catch up with all my family.

This New Year’s I am planning on taking a trip to the beach with my girlfriend. One last getaway before MLF kicks off!

Major League Fishing pro Dustin Connell with his girlfriend

Anthony Gagliardi
This year there are no special plans (that I know of yet!) other than spending time together as a family. This time of year marks the end of the offseason, so right around the corner are the long weeks away from home traveling and fishing. So I cherish all the time during and leading up to Christmas. As my children are 8 and 10, New Years is not near as an anticipated event as Christmas!

We don't have any traditions per se, but sometimes we travel during Christmas week. We took a Christmas Caribbean cruise several years ago, and last year we spent Christmas week in Costa Rica. 

Major League Fishing pro Anthony Gagliardi and family

Shaw Grigsby

Christmas is a special time of year for us as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. My mother is German, so my family’s tradition is to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. This year my family and my mother will gather at my sister’s to celebrate with dinner and a tradition of singing ‘Silent Night’ together.

Christmas Morning is special for the grandkids since Santa Clause will have come during the night. We will meet at my son Shaw’s house for breakfast and the presents from Santa. If that is not enough, it’s time for another Christmas celebration. This time it is with my wife’s side of the family in St. Petersburg for dinner by the water and a little fishing.

The day after Christmas my grandson Bryce, my son Shaw and I usually head off for a few days of hunting in South Carolina or Arkansas before New Year’s. Of course, we will be watching a lot of college football.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Major League Fishing pro Shaw Grigsby and family
Major League Fishing pro Roy Hawk and family

Roy Hawk

You know, this year we are laying low for Christmas. Enjoying family time in the offseason here at Lake Havasu. We have a beautiful "White Christmas" here (white sandy beaches! Lol!)

One of our lasting traditions is selecting a new, original ornament to hang on the tree. Each one creating a new memory for that year. But yeah, just kicking it here this year.

Oh, we are doing our Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve this year. Might be able to sneak out Christmas day for a little fishing.  

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from the Hawks!

Jason Lambert
My Christmas plans are pretty simple: Enjoy some time with my wife Ashley and the family, and eat entirely too much. As far as New Year’s, we will be loading up the fifth-wheel and bringing in the new year in the East Tennessee mountains.  

Major League Fishing pro Jason Lambert with his wife

Dave Lefebre

I actually, for the first time ever, other than eating, sleeping, etc., have planned out all my remaining days before take off to Toho. So, on Christmas day, here is what I have written on my calendar: Rods. Reels. Line. LOL. That's it. Have a nice day!

Major League Fishing pro Dave Lefebre and family
MLF pro Dave Lefebre with his family

Seriously though, my title sponsor just delivered all my gear for 2019. So, on Christmas, we eat, we have family over to our house, and we watch football. Since there are not enough hours in the day and nowhere near enough days before I hit the road, I've designated that day to get all my rods and reels ready indoors at my recliner! People don’t realize that to unbox, unwrap, pair up, spool line and rig, it takes up an entire 12-hour day, at least. I'm certainly not complaining. But that's why I'm particularly excited about this Christmas, plus they'll be plenty of extra hands around to help!

On New Year's Day, I have to drop my boat off at Fast Signs in Erie to get wrapped. I'll spend most of that day rigging my Lowrance units and PowerPole stuff, only to be once again interrupted by the dumbest tradition ever: Eating at 2 pm! So stupid.

I still put out milk and cookies for Santa and have the kids write a little note to him before bed. We also track Santa's route on the TV on Christmas Eve. And before the madness on Christmas day, we like to have a nice quiet morning with just our small immediate family. I have ice fished on many passed Christmas days, but this year I don't have enough time to play! We make it a point to recognize the true meaning of Christmas and not get caught up in the hype. Jesus was born!

Major League Fishing pro Andy Morgan with his wife and daughter on Thanksgiving Day
Morgan with his wife and daughter on
Thanksgiving Day

Andy Morgan

For as long as I can remember we have this Christmas/New Year’s Tradition. We spend time with, my wife Missy’s family on December 23, my family on Christmas Eve, and we are home for Christmas morning... We leave later in the day and drive about 6 hours to our duck camp.

We spend the following week at duck camp hunting having tons of fun! We hunt, cook, work puzzles, play games and just enjoy our time with family and friends. We are always at duck camp New Years Eve, celebrating and then up and in the woods before daylight. Our daughter loves the outdoors and duck hunting is her favorite.

It may seem odd to some but we are a fishing/hunting family and love every minute of it! We spend a lot of our quality time in the outdoors making memories. Keylee has been at duck camp since she was in diapers.

John Murray
Our Christmas this year will be in the desert of Arizona. We lived in Arizona until three years ago, when we moved to Spring City, Tenn. After a couple “cold” Christmases, we’ve decided that Christmas in 75 degrees fits us better. So now, we head out to Arizona to have the holiday with my Mom, who still lives out there.

As far as traditions, my favorite is having oyster stew on Christmas Eve. My family had that tradition for as long as I remember, and now my wife Amy, son TJ and I all have that tradition, too. 

Major League Fishing pro John Murray and his family

Keith Poche
We’ll spend Christmas Eve at my wife’s parents’ house. Then on Christmas morning we’ll be at home with the girls. After that, we’ll head out to my hometown in Louisiana and stay there until New Year’s.

I have a new tradition: I always fish on New Year’s Day to start the year off right.

Major League Fishing pro Keith Poche and his family
Christmas bonfire in Louisiana

Gerald Spohrer
Usually, for Christmas eve we go Gramercy, Louisiana and watch the bonfires on the Mississippi River levee, which are used to signal the Cajun Santa Clause. People come from all over to watch this event every year.  We build hundreds of bonfires for miles and light them all at the same time. We usually light them by surrounding them with fireworks. Some people go all out and build some fancy ones. 

Christmas day is all about cooking and eating. This year is special because it is the first year that my brother and his family get to have a Christmas at home after moving home. He is a Marine pilot and has been flying Marine One for the President of the United States for the last few years. He finally completed his tour of flying the president and has moved his family home.  Now we can all spend time together every holiday.  his year we will be cooking gumbo Christmas day and opening presents as a family together instead of by mail like we have done in the past.

Christmas bonfire in Louisiana
Major League Fishing pro Greg Vinson and his family

Greg Vinson

Major League Fishing pro Greg Vinson and his family

We live in central Alabama, where it hardly ever snows. Gaige was determined he wanted to see a white Christmas, so last year we went with family to Snow Shoe, West Virginia. Gaige kept calling it the "snowy place". There was only a dusting on the ground when we arrived Christmas Eve, but it snowed hard that night and we woke up to several inches Christmas morning. Mission accomplished! It was so cold that I couldn't get my diesel truck to start the morning we headed back, but it was all worth it to see how happy Gaige was.

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