I had convinced myself that I should not fish the Hobie Open; a little voice in the back of my head telling me again and again, “you can’t fish on Ky Lake”.
“Dude, you don’t know how to ledge fish….you don’t know where to start fishing big water…you don’t know…”
“Well, you don’t…”
“yeah I know.”
So I was out.
Then I spoke with my Joy who told me that I should fish it.
“If you want to get better, you have to step out of your comfort zone!”
…then the little voice…
“dude….you are going to fail big time…you su…”
Then my Joy….
“You know how to catch fish, right? Isn’t it just fishing?”
In the end, it is fishing. And I have been doing that since I could remember. I want to compete at a different level, so I have to grow; become more versatile. I cannot be afraid of losing, because that is going to happen; it happens to us all.
Then I logged on and signed up before that voice could tell me how bad it was going to end.
At the Friday captains meeting I sat listening to all the guys who knew deep water, who knew ledges; electronics.
“Dude…you should go to Barkley and fish some small water, go where you belong. You do not fit here. In the Open, you fished the skinny end of Barkley so go where you know.”
There was no sleeping when I got home. I scoured maps, watched videos, reviewed FLW winners lure choices; tried to convince myself that I could fish there.
Saturday morning I had decided that I should go to Saline Creek. Shallow lily pads for me. Then I came to the turn off…and kept going to Ky Lake.
…………day one results……
I was in 50th place. I had caught over thirty small and largemouth bass; two sauger, three blue gill. It wasn’t in deep water, but I had found massive willow fly hatches so the fish were swarming. The only issue was that I had found little fish, only hooking one larger than 17 inches – who freed himself before I could measure him.
During the course of the day, I watched the only other kayak competitor as he fished off shore. I watched as he moved from spot to spot, and saw him searching with his head down facing his sonar. Before I slept, I again poured over the map to see what the guy had been fishing. What attracted him to the spots he chose during the first day.
“dude take yourself to the lily pads, take yourself to Blue Creek or Bumpus Mills…go to somewhere you know!”
I again passed the turnoff. The odds of me winning were equal to the powerball ticket in my pocket being “the one”, so what did I have to lose. I would watch the guy from the day before and at least learn. I set a goal to make it to number 40…be in the top thirty percent. Stay competitive, don’t be in the last two thirds.
As I rounded the corner to the ramp, I was alone. No one was there but me.
I decide to bust the hatches again, get a limit and see where it took me. Fish one was larger than anything I had caught the day before, but still not large. Fish two, the same. Fish three came in a few minutes and I had a limit. A small limit. Several more fish as I backed off the point to try deeper.
Fish were hitting across the bay, so I pedaled over to give it a try. Larger smallmouth, small largemouth…giant carp sucked in my top water bait, another bluegill.
Moved to the back of the bay, thick brush and grass. Popped a frog a few times, three more fish.
Then they stopped. The whole place stopped. Normal day, load up and call it; the party was over. But I had several hours left in the day.
Still alone – electronics working – I moved to where I had seen the guy fishing the day before. It didn’t take me long to find the humps, the channels and the drop offs. I tied a crankbait to my line and dredged the spots, feeling rocks, wood, gravel; sensing it reach the drop off and come free.
So I finally understood. I got it. I had never looked at a map to find deep spots to fish; only to find shallow spots close to deep water.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t find, what I needed to find; fish. The fish had turned off around nine thirty and never came back.
I had met some new guys, and shared some fish truths, some fish lies.
I had moved from 50th to 25th with my continued success at finding volumes of fish.
I had discovered what those guys fishing off shore knew.
So I was pleased.
I watched a guy I had fished with at other tournaments pull in an impressive 2nd place. Josh Stewart was going to travel with the Hobie group. That made me smile.
And then I silently thanked the winner, Jay Wallen, who had left the spot I was fishing and allowed me to learn. He had moved somewhere that produced larger fish but had taught an old dog how to hunt in a different way.
Congratulations to you both for the adventure to follow.
I need to thank my Joy for supporting my need to fish. She understands I find peace, that my mind is quiet, on the water. She convinces me that if I keep pushing myself, trying new techniques, I can be a better angler….be a better person. She convinced me that I should try to do something, to believe in myself and the little voice was silent….she reminds me that I can.