MEERS, Okla. — Following a long, difficult decision process and aided by the support of my wife, Tammy, and the rest of my family, today I announce that the 2009 BASS Elite Series Tour will mark my final season of full-time competitive fishing.
I refuse to use the term "retired" since it simply does not fit my situation. I will still continue to be a part of the outdoors and the fishing industry, continuing to lend my support to my sponsors whenever I can.
I most definitely will continue to fish — maybe even in the occasional tournament — but not at the highest levels on a full-time basis. I still love to fish and do so as often as I can.
However, with age and other factors, my body simply will not allow me to compete at the level at which I think I should. Standing on the front deck of a bass boat for weeks at a time and taking long, bone-jarring boat rides simply does not agree with my 62-year-old body anymore.
While it would be easier to simply walk away from my professional angling career in light of my aches and pains and the financial commitment that it takes to compete on a national bass fishing tour, my final season will be devoted to enjoying the sport of fishing; relishing the fellowship, competition and camaraderie of the fellow anglers and the support of my fans. That's why I'm calling this my "Farewell Tour."
My love for the outdoors is unending: from my original career as a fisheries biologist, I made my first major occupational transition in 1983 when I became a full-time tournament angler.
Through hard work, support of family, friends, fans and sponsors, the first tour stop at Lake Amistad will mark my 27th season as a professional angler. The end of the season will find me making my transition into a third profession, one that will allow me to maintain a connection with the outdoors.
For years, my family and I have made our life on a beautiful piece of land in southwestern Oklahoma near the Wichita Mountains. Tarbone Ranch has been a place of solitude and refuge in an otherwise fast-paced and often frantic life as a professional angler.
In recent years, I have devoted my knowledge and expertise in the wildlife biology into improving the overall health and genetics of the animals that share the ranch with us. Once my professional angling career is over, my focus will become the ranch and providing outdoor opportunities for sportsmen and women.
As a professional angler who has always taken pride in the ability to teach people to be more successful on the water, the transition to teaching people to appreciate the outdoors and how to be more successful in other outdoor pursuits is an easy one — one that I cherish.
Over the course of my final BASS Elite Series season, I will be blogging about my experiences and reflecting on the things I've learned on my Web site, KenCookOutdoors.com (Editor's Note: Ken will also be posting on ESPNOutdoors.com) There you can read about Tarbone Ranch, see some of the animals that live there and get a feel for what I will be doing with my time once the season is over.
This announcement would be incomplete if I failed to recognize the companies that have been so instrumental in my long career as a professional angler. I have enjoyed a long relationship with many of them and have partnered with others more recently, but I value each of the relationships I have with these fine sponsors and look forward to continuing my efforts with them in my post-tournament life.
My sincere thanks go to Berkley, Abu Garcia, Triton, Mercury, Motor Guide, Tru Tungsten, Storm, Rapala, Lowrance, Costa Del Mar, Navionics, Re-Action System and the other organizations that have helped to make my dream of professional angling a success.
In the next week, I will be at the Outdoor Expo that runs in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic in Shreveport, La., appearing in the booths of my sponsors. I look forward to seeing many of you there.
For more information about Ken Cook's career and a look at Tarbone Ranch, online go to KenCookOutdoors.com.