Maybe it is because I am tired. Maybe I should think about “my personal recap of Chickamauga” before I post it. Maybe I will do that after I finish typing, but I doubt it…I didn’t make as many terrible decisions as I have till now by stopping to think.
I do plan to write a more formal version since Anglr has asked for a recap of another tournament…and Kristine wrecked ‘em all day; it seems fitting…but now…
The unofficial KBF Chickamauga recap as lived by one angler….me (and his wife).
A little background….
I pulled a vacation day from the Hobie BOS on St. Clair coming up at the end of June so I could leave Thursday night and pre-fish Friday. I had planned on fishing Sale Creek, but almost every guy rolling down from Clarksville planned the same so I wanted to try new water. I had been eyeing several spots in Harrison Bay and felt like I could have some success.
Joy and I usually take the camper, or grab a room, but we decided to carry a tent and stay at Harrison Bay State Park. The weather was going to be cooler and less humid, so it sounded like our first camping adventure in Colorado several years ago. She actually left Thursday while I was in meetings and had everything ready when I finally made it past Bonnaroo and into Chattanooga.
Usually a recap will start with some fishing news, but we were robbed at the campsite.
I woke around two thirty to hear coolers being opened and a lot of commotion. I guess the guys in the next site heard it all and woke up too because it was just a few minutes before I saw lights shining through our tent; then I saw the shadows of the thieves running past our tent with cans and bags of food.
I got up from the rocky and unlevel campsite, stepped on the sleeping bag…then fell…then got up and unzipped the tent in time to see four raccoons running away. Well, not away…they stopped when they saw me, turned and looked at me with a “what??” look and devoured the next sites food and drink.
By then, Joy was awake and I was not going to sleep so we decided to cook some breakfast. I fired up the camp stove and she pulled out the oatmeal and brown sugar/Splenda mix that makes it all taste good. She also pulled out a can of spam and set it on the table. We turned for five….no one…one second to open the cooler and those racoons had run with the bag of brown sugar. We never saw it coming!
After watching it run off, she couldn’t find the spam…and I was shining my light into the woods.
Three sets of eyes, spaced out in what I can only assume was an attack pattern devised by this band of rogues looked back at me; then slowly started advancing. I picked up some rocks, tossed them…and they spread out further, slowly flanking our site!
Now, we carry a propane fire ‘cause it is quick, easy and warm, so I fired it up. They do not seem to like fire and ceased the advance…but you could hear them banging on a can. Joy was certain they had a rock – or the can opener from the site next door – and were working on the can of spam to finish their meal.
We had sugarless oatmeal and water. We later found the can of spam, so they must have been banging some signal to further prepare for the next attack….not sure.
Mediocre results…Siddiqi had also found the same spots…what we didn’t find was current, so it didn’t pan out for either of us. Pedaled over twelve miles…went behind some Kudzu and caught crappie on top water….video to come soon!
Side note…Joy is certain that Kudzu is an alien thing that houses aliens…maybe why I caught crappie on top water in a culvert that runs under the main road beside Harrison Bay???
I drove back after fishing to find the next site empty and Joy talking about how as bad as the marauding band of raccoons had been, the squirrels were the same. Coming up looking at her and the truck like “you going to get me something or not?”. She did think that the raccoons were the top of the campground food chain…and I think I agree.
Everything was in the truck, next site had no food out….quiet on the campsite 15 front. But I could sense them with binoculars surveying the sites.
Number one…for real…I do not think I have ever fished anywhere where the boaters were so inconsiderate of not only the kayaks, but of the other boaters. One place I had found fish, a finger going out into the lake that ended on the channel with a buoy marking it, was where I set up to at least have a respectable finish. I was less then 25 yards from it, throwing at it, when a boat roars up to it….stops…pulls out a bucket of minnows and starts fishing it. Later, another boat runs between myself and it…then circles around me and stops behind me. When I turn around…less than 40 yards from the shore…they started fishing behind me.
Then two jet skis decided the spot was a slalom point and….well, I watched them go between Siddiqi and the shore across the water….amazed by it all. All day long.
Finished middle of the pack….at least I beat a limit out of the lake.
The serious stuff ….and my personal journey….
On the way back to the launch, as I fought through the many boats and the swells caused by it all, I got tired. The temp had raised, the humidity was up and I got beat down. Hope this isn’t too much whining, but I decided that I could no longer do the tournament stuff.
The summers are tough on me since having open heart surgery, my back is screwed from all the surgeries and the waves were almost too much. I have never been a quitter, but there are a few times where it is just all too much.
I spent years as an addict, the finally kicked meth, coke and anything else I could shove in my body….ruptured some discs…. a month in bed rotating between Lortab, valium and muscle relaxers…spent ten days in the hospital after the quad bypass and wasn’t sure I was coming home, at one point knew my heart was not going to survive it…then the bouncing back was not a bounce but an incredibly slow roll.
But on Saturday, I decided I was D…U…N, done. I called Joy just before I loaded my kayak (twenty minutes early) and told her we were not going to St. Clair and I wasn’t fishing anymore…and that was that. She asked me to think about it…I did…”I am done”. News from the doctors over the last few weeks was not what I wanted to hear, the summer is just starting…the long rides, the long pedals….
Then just like the news that my daughter was going to be born told me it was time to try and be sober…..just like the basket of fruit showing up from the girls I coached in softball after I had not eaten for two days while in the pill induced haze reminded me that I MUST be sober, that I needed to eat….just like my Joy telling me it was time to suck it up buttercup after heart surgery – to start moving….something(s) happened to cause me to pause…
Actually three on Saturday…guess I needed more than one….
Joy told me not to take the St. Clair trip away – she was looking forward to it.
I loaded my boat, freaking beat and almost too tired to pull it on the trailer, and pulled up next to a family that was prepping kayaks for launch. They asked me about batteries, the Hobie and kayak fishing. They made me realize how much I love talking about it, doing it.
Matt Ball looked at me and said he is always happy to see my face at the tournaments.(sorry to call you out, but thanks)
Joy…she is always my biggest fan and I would never disappoint her (I hope).
The other two are like the random stuff that just happens in your life, but on this day, in that mood…in that state of utter physical exhaustion and defeat…thank you guys.
Well, on the ride home….replaying the conversation with those guys and talking to them about kayak fishing….remembering the look on Matt’s face as he placed his hand on my back….hearing my Joy ask me for something (she seldom asks anything of me)….I ain’t done. I can’t be….I love this stuff….maybe I got a couple of more years in me….
Funny how things are placed in your path that you need…when you need them….maybe not so funny….
I do know the raccoons in Harrison Bay are not funny! Do they have a training school for them, they seemed well disciplined….off to Google.