The sun was not yet up.
Two fish were already on the phone, pics ready for submittal.
Three more had exploded on the $1 white WalMart buzzbait with a chartreuse tail (tail up as always), two coming unpinned after a couple of cranks on the Shimano Sahara mounted on a St. Croix Avid rod.
All five in a spot the size of a truck large pickup truck – nothing of great size – but they were piled high and hungry.
Number 6 crushed the bait. He jumped twice, then a third time directly into the net! The buzzbait became tangled in the net, so I left it.
I pulled the fish from the net – placed the net where the fish would jump into it if trying to escape.
Placed him on the board; put the Hobie Open Day One Identifier on the pedals of my mirage drive as I had done for the first two.
I got the camera ready to take the pic…a limit for the day in no time…it was going to be an awesome day…a great day!
The fish flopped once, twice, then he hit the identifier with his tail in such a way that it appeared to be thrown by a magician performing a trick. I saw it hit the water, then the wind pulled me right on it.
I grabbed my Bending Branches Carbon paddle with one hand (cause I can with that paddle – so light), made one stroke, and could see the identifier swaying back and forth, sinking out of sight.
I dropped the paddle, grabbed my net and made a swipe. This action threw my rod and reel overboard.
The fish had flopped into the net (that is why I put it there), so it went with it all.
And just like that, day one of the Hobie Open was over for me. I pulled my rod back into the boat.
I called the number on the iAngler email and spoke with Mike Christopher, knowing the result:
“Is my day over?”
But he gave me AJ Mcwhorter’s number just in case.
“Is my day over?”
The rest of the conversation, AJ was extremely apologetic. I told him it was cool, it was on me and I knew…I was just hoping there was some super-secret handshake code that could let me finish the day…I knew the answer before the identifier went out of sight.
My day was over. I pedaled around a bit, trying to see where I was going through the tears….then left. Had I fished and had a banner day, I would have been heart broken, so I did not risk it.
I had just pulled the most rookie mistake I had ever made since taking up kayak bass tournament fishing a year and a half ago. I had not secured the identifier, and it was gone.
After pulling to the shore, getting a stick to tie to my net so I could dredge the bottom; I spent the next hour hoping to find the most precious catch of the day.
It never happened.
The good part, I made the drive home…took a quick nap (crying myself to sleep), then a quick shower…then made it to check in knowing I would catch a bit of crap from my friends.
They were not as bad as I thought they might be, but it came from more than I expected.
I deserved it.
Fished day two.
Ended up 29th overall.
Thanks to Jay Wallen, Will Son, Rebecca Golden, Anthony Shingler, Kirt Pequinot, Terry Bowman, Shane McIntyre and others for being kind enough to remind me what the orange floaty thing with the big Hobie letters on it was for….again….and again….and again….you guys are awesome….#%&?$#?@?$%.
For real though….thanks for laughing along with me, for listening to me. It is really good to see the understanding on your faces. Even with this screw up, with any screw up – or on the good days….the kayak family is there to support you.
One of the reasons I love doing this!