Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Austin Meadows unwinds from baseball on the water.
It is safe to say that 2020 has been a very weird year for everyone. Sadly, one of the first consistent things we lost to the Covid-19 pandemic was sports, and most of us did not realize how much we missed them until they were gone. Thankfully, a Major League Baseball season is finally underway, albeit a rather strange one. It will surely be a season that baseball, and sports fans everywhere, will not soon forget.
We were recently able to catch up with some prominent MLB players who share our same love of the outdoors, especially hunting and fishing. What we found were some down-to-earth pro athletes who unwind much in the same way as us, getting outside with a rod or rifle whenever possible.
Today we are speaking with Tampa Bay Rays star outfielder Austin Meadows. The 2019 All-Star player dominated the minors before starting his MLB career with the Pittsburg Pirates. He was traded to Tampa Bay in 2018, which turned into a great deal for the Rays. Meadows has led the team in many statistical categories and has shown up strong since returning to the field in the shortened 2020 season.
When he isn't slugging monster home runs, Meadows is an avid fisherman. He was extremely excited to talk about how he uses time on the water to unwind from pro baseball. While his love of fishing may have started with freshwater, he quickly took to saltwater angling too during his time in Florida.
Q&A with Austin Meadows of the Tampa Bay Rays
WOS: With the coronavirus outbreak, did you get outside hunting and fishing more this spring? Or was your focus still on spring training?
(Editorial Note: This interview was conducted before Meadows tested positive for Covid-19 and missed the first 10 games of the season. He has since returned to the ballfield after being cleared.)
Meadows: "I would still make time for the boat but baseball is priority, so I maintained my workout routines and my goal was to stay in shape. I would usually get my workouts done first thing in the morning and then take the afternoon to get on the boat and back out in the water. I had a good routine of baseball and fishing."
WOS: Tell us where your love for fishing started. Has it changed over the years? Has it been affected by your career?
Meadows: "My love for fishing started at my grandparent's lake house in Georgia. I basically grew up there and considered it a second home. I spent most of my time there and realized I loved being out on the water and fishing in fresh water. In 2013, when I was drafted by the Pirates, I was always in Florida for training, which is all saltwater fishing and was a huge adjustment. I really grew to love it and just bought a boat down there so I can go out anytime I want.. When I'm out on the water I am able to reset and clear my mind. Fishing gets me away from the world and I'm able to focus on the pole in my hand and trying to catch a fish. It flushes any negativity out and lets me be outside at peace."
WOS: Do you fish with any of your baseball friends? Do you have a favorite memory of taking one out on the boat?
Meadows: "Yes, I take a couple guys out - I took Yarbs (Ryan Yarbrough) and his wife out during Spring Training along with a handful of other teammates. Back home I have friends that I take out as well. I hope to be the guy that if they aren't fishing with me, they ask advice on where to fish, what to fish, etc."
WOS: What are your top fishing tips for someone new to the sport?
Meadows: "First and foremost, be patient. Whether you hunt or fish, patience is the number one thing when you are out there. If you catch a fish or not, patience is key and just enjoy the moment. Second, you have to have bait. Whether you buy it or catch it yourself - bait is priority. Finally, figure out the weather for the day. The weather determines the tides and the tides determine where you will find the fish. In fresh water, there are no tides but in saltwater there are tides and you have to find out where the fish are moving."
WOS: Tell us about your favorite fishing memory.
Meadows: "Oooo. I have a lot! My most favorite memory is when I would go on my grandpa's boat in Georgia and catch crappie fish. We would go out late at night and stay out on the boat until past midnight and talk about life and share memories. This was the thing I would look forward to the most and I'll never forget it."
WOS: What is your favorite hunting and fishing season and why?
Meadows: "I would probably say Fall because I am able to be back home in Georgia. Football is going on and I get a little break from baseball in general. Fall is my favorite season."
WOS: Hunting or fishing and why?
Meadows: "Deep sea fishing! I love being out in the ocean all by myself, it is such a great way to clear my mind and relax."
WOS: How difficult is it to fit in fishing with the pressures of being a pro ball player?
Meadows: "It is super tough - I would end up going late at night after games last year and thankfully had a neighbor who had a boat and we would go together. I always made time for it to reset my mind but fortunately I play for the Rays, so I can fit it into my schedule more."
WOS: Favorite game fish species and why?
Meadows: "Grouper or Snapper, anything you can take home to eat, which is my favorite part of fishing down in Florida. Tarpan is best for photos though!"
WOS: What are your favorite outdoor brands?
Meadows: "Aftco, Pelagic, Shimano, Free Fly."
WOS: Are you planning a career in the outdoor industry post-baseball? If so, what do you hope to do?
Meadows: "For sure. My priority is making sure that I'm secure and don't have to work another day after baseball. Whether its guiding groups or entering tournaments for fun or professional, I want to keep the fun in it and have the most fun I can after retirement."