Lost to the depths....
Some of the stories are of good times and some of the stories are from times you want to forget. There's nothing like sharing stories when it comes to fishing whether it's about that big fish you lost or the day you really caught them. You can bet that there's going to be drama when you are getting to fish with a bunch of different people from all walks of life over the course of the year. Here's some stories about what I'd consider some of the less than stellar moments while fishing over the past year.
It was during one tournament this year that I was catching fish on a shallow running crankbait and I just happened to get a little carried away with one of my casts and I hung my bait up on a tree a couple of feet out from the bank. When you are fishing as a Co-Angler the last thing you want to do is get hung up because then your boater has to take a break in the action and go and get your bait. If you fish from the back deck and get hung up once in awhile hopefully your boater is nice enough to help you out. Anyways so I was really catching some fish on this crankbait of mine so I asked my boater if he could go over and let me poke it off the tree. From the beginning of the day I knew that my boater was going to be a real trip. It just seemed like he was in a really bad mood for some reason from the beginning of the day. Rule number one in fishing is that if you are angry you'll never catch anything. So my boater went on to say how Co-Anglers should know better than to throw a crankbait in the back of the boat because they get hung up more often and that he didn't feel as though he should have to get it. Obviously if you've ever fished a crankbait they get hung up less in a lot of situations than a jig or even a worm depending on the type of bottom you are fishing. This boater said I'm not getting your bait because as a Co-Angler you shouldn't throw a treble hooked bait off the back deck. I could of understood if it was right up on the bank where he would of had to take his trolling motor and lift it up out of the water and scrape it on the bottom to get shallow enough and everything but this crankbait of mine was just on a tree out in deep enough water that I just had to poke it off with my rod. So I said well if you're not going to help me out and get my crankbait back then I guess I'm not going to grab the net when you get that 5lber on the line. I guess it made a lot of sense because next thing you know we were headed over to that tree to get my bait back. The moral of the story is as a Co-Angler you're going to get hung up every once in awhile. As long as you're not getting hung up all the time don't be afraid to ask to go get a bait. Most of the boaters I fished with this past year were very good people and didn't mind helping me out because they knew that I was not trying to throw ahead of the boat or throw over their line all day like a lot of Co-Anglers. The day just goes a lot better if boaters and co-anglers work together to figure out the fish than if they go to war against each other all day.
Another story from this year was when I was fishing a tournament on Kentucky Lake. We get out there and my boater said at the beginning of the day that we were going to run all the way to Paris Landing in Tennessee. I was cool with that because usually the fishing is better on Kentucky Lake the further south you go. During take off we were running down the lake and I was wondering why in the heck the boat was running so slow. My boater had a 21 foot Triton bass boat with a 250 hp Merc on it and we should have been running 68 to 75 mph no problem. We get down to about the bridge around Johnathan Creek and he goes yeah somethings been wrong with my motor it won't get above 52 mph and this started happening yesterday in practice. He said we are just going to stay around here and not go all the way down to Paris because I'm afraid we might break down. It didn't matter to me where we fished but we sure had a surprise when we pulled the boat out at the end of the day. We pulled the boat up into the parking lot at Kentucky Lake Dam Marina and my boater was walking around the boat and he goes holy cow check this out. Sure enough two whole bolts had backed their way all the way out on the transom and basically the whole Motor was only hanging on the back of the boat by two bolts. Sure enough the torque on the back end had kept the boat from reaching top speed. If one of those other bolts had broken off the motor could have come into the boat and probably killed us both.
Lucky we didn't have that happen but it's a learning experience of why boat owners should always take a look around every once in a while and check your bolts on your boat to make sure they are secure.
I've been fishing competitively for over 10 years now and I've spent countless days on the water in some of the craziest fishing conditions and up until this year I had never lost a rod in the water. It was during the tournament on Rend Lake in the BFL this year that I reeled in a fish and literally had thrown my rod down in the center off the boat while I untangled the fish from the net. I went to measure the fish which sure enough was as a short and tossed the fish back into the lake. I turned around to grab my rod and it had totally disappeared. I was like what the heck? Even my boater was like where did your rod go? Craziest thing of all is I was throwing a topwater bait and we were not even in water deeper than 3 feet so you would have thought the bait would have floated to the surface still attached to the rod. We looked around a little bit and couldn't find it anywhere. The rods laying on the bottom with Bassing Billy and someday a kids probably going to snag himself a heck of a nice rod and reel with a nice bait on it. Luckily I had another one of those baits and a couple other rods in the boat and was able to block it out of my mind because I went on to catch a couple of keepers and walk away with a third place finish but only a couple hundred bucks richer because the rod and reel that I'd lost was probably at least 100 bucks or more.
This year when I was fishing a small jackpot tournament with my buddy Steve I got my jig hung up under a dock. Sure enough when I got out on the dock to get my jig back I grabbed hold of the dock and my wedding ring slipped right off my finger and into the lake. It was my original wedding ring and now it's on the bottom of a muddy lake in about 12 feet of water. It wasn't a real expensive ring. It was just a silver band as my wife knew I'd probably lose it at some point. Nowadays I get to wear the rubber wedding bands which suit me better since I live such an active lifestyle. Who knows maybe someday I reel in a fish and he will have my wedding ring in his mouth. If you happen to find a ring while out at Holiday Shores in IL there's a chance that it could be mine. My wife would appreciate if you could get it back to me.
I was fishing in another tournament this year and my boater calls me in the morning and goes hey looks like we are in for a long day. I just smoked a log on the way over to the boat ramp.Not the call that you want to get from your boater after having driven more than 5 hours to fish. He had put his boat in on another ramp and while he was running across the lake in the dark he smoked a tree and demolished his lower unit before the day got started. Lesson to be learned here is that the last thing you want to do is ruin your boats motor at the boat ramp. If you put in on a dark ramp across the lake before the start of the day take it easy so you make sure you don't hit anything. Sometimes being a Co-Angler you don't learn so much what to do but you will learn what not to do. Stuff like that happens and part of fishing is just learning that you are going to have your good days and your bad days on the water. Just take the good days for what they are and the bad days as they come. Fishing has it's way of being kinda like a fairest wheel. It's got it's highs and lows. Just try to enjoy it for what its worth.
One more story from this year is from the FLW BFL Regional on Lake Chickamauga. One of my buddies in the tournament drew out another Co-Angler in the tournament who didn't bring any rain gear. It was a beautiful 52 degrees and pouring down rain all day and if you took a look at the weather channel you would have known it was going to be miserable. Obviously if you are going to be fishing tournaments make sure you invest in some rain gear even if it's some cheap nylon stuff from Walmart. My buddy had a hell of a day driving through the rain at 70 mph letting his Co-Angler who was dumb enough not to bring any gear get soaked to the bone. I don't know but after fishing in the rain all day even in gear I don't know how that sorry Co made it through the day.