Yesterday, my need to prove something helped me to a 13th place finish. That story……..
I have fished most of my life, starting on our family’s drive to Alaska back in the late 60’s up until this morning (so far). Not really competitively, but just to fish….there had been two tournaments in a boat over 30 years ago, but those too were just to have fun.
Last year, I signed up to fish my first kayak tournament with CAKFG. It was an afternoon tournament, the water was high and muddy; I went to Elk Harbor in Cross Creeks. My experience up until that point – maybe once or twice bass fishing at Elk Harbor. All of the waters I knew like the back of my hand in bounds…and I went to Elk Harbor.
My length for that first tournament; 0 inches. I only caught one 10 inch fish. The top five all fished water I knew.
This year, I fished a KBF tournament on Barkley (most of the water I know in bounds); and Cross Creeks was included. The water was high and muddy, I had (for fun) fished Elk Harbor and caught two 17’s and a 21.5 the week before…..all of Barkley in bounds….I went to Elk Harbor and dashed to a 28th place finish with an impressive 2 fish that totaled 30.5 inches (sucked)!
Back to yesterday; I convinced myself that I would not win the tournament because I had not found big fish; and most of the guys I knew would be fishing all of the other spots that we all know about…so I went to Elk Harbor to prove I could beat it. The tournament had all of Cross Creek open, including water I knew how to fish….but I had caught a 17 one morning before work….at Elk Harbor….
I don’t think it was intentional that I set out to “beat” Elk Harbor. But as the day progressed, I said I was not going to let it win! I fished top water until I had a limit, then I tossed a senko into the shadows on a miserably hot day for hours, then flipped a jig.
I never fish a jig, one of the guys who knows that caught me flipping a jig. He had almost the same game plan, but chose the deeper of the two creeks that feed Elk and placed above me. He also moved early to another spot to cap off his limit.
44.25 inches. 44.25 more than 0 and 13.75 more than the 30.5! I did catch close to thirty fish with techniques new to me, so to be honest, it was not a waste. I did learn, but by not following my gut and moving early along with Marshall; by being too stubborn and trying to beat Elk Harbor….well, 13th and close to thirty 12-13 inch fish was the prize.
Which bring me to the hypothesis that it is not me holding my mouth wrong, but location that has been leaving me a high ranking member of the 11-13 inch fish club; it ain’t just me! Marshall did catch a nice fish on the other end of the lake….so I was not certain I couldn’t fish….almost certain…but not positive it wasn’t me.
So this morning, to test my hypothesis, I went to a location in the Cross Creeks reserve where several people placed above me. I wanted to understand the differences in my choice and theirs from a slightly scientific perspective. Not an official six sigma study, or a large sample size that would be required for it to be accurate (although the engineer side of me wanted to do so); but a quick check.
I chose the same bait, the same technique and same fisher guy I used on Saturday to test my hypothesis. I went late in the morning and fished for two hours – late because we had gone to see Styx and REO Speedwagon last night – so I never even pulled out a top water lure as I hoped to prove that it was not just that I can’t fish!
Bait = weightless, watermelon Yamamoto Senko and a brown/watermelon jig
Technique = skipping it up to shade and any wood or brush for the Senko; flipping the jig tight to cover
Fisher Guy = bruised ego me
Elk Harbor = can’t breathe, stinky sweat, who scheduled this tournament HOT!!!
Other Place I went = still the same! Misery for those who venture out!
Elk Harbor = approx. 90-95 degrees
Other Place I went = approx. 86-88 degrees (hmmmmmm)
Elk Harbor = clear
Other Place I went = Lake Barkley Summer stain…you know the color
Results after two hours…………
I would not have won with those two hours, but the fish I caught would have put me in the top ten. The quality of fish was different, the bite was more aggressive. 15-16 inch, not 11-13.
My hypothesis was accurate – it is not that I cannot catch fish (it ain’t me!)….but that I cannot choose the right spot (wait, now it is back to me?!?)!
I will stop with excuses too. I have been trying new things, new places; trying to grow and that has me forgetting at times to go back to what I know. And in the back of my mind, I had something to prove to myself with Elk Harbor.
I did catch a lot of fish, I catch a lot of fish every time I go out now; even in Alabama where the bite proved to be tough, I was finding the bite. So 13th is not bad…..and although I did not beat Elk Harbor and get the win….I did get in some punches and improved personally with the new techniques.
And to those who placed above me…….I am figuring this stuff out…so I will win again…..just sayin….
….maybe Old Hickory next….put up a big ole goose egg on my one adventure there. Even put on a rooster tail trying for a blue gill and couldn’t get a bite……yeah….Old Hickory…….