..CAKFG…my first second family…

CAKFG battle of the creeks….

To say I was excited by the prospect of a local tournament on the creeks…which included Yellow Creek….in the afternoon, in late August would be an understatement.

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The tourney was slated to run from 4 to 10 p.m. on any one of the local creeks between here  (Clarksville) and Dover, Tennessee.  These creeks, these are the places that I grew up fishing; where I did well in two previous National Championships, where I have caught double digit numbers of bass over 6 lbs, where I slay crappie in the winter and white bass in the spring, where I caught my first pickerel and bowfin, where I first launched in a kayak just over three years ago…the place I go to regroup, to find myself…to get “quiet” for a minute.

This same setting is also where I fished my first kayak tournament with the CAKFG group three years ago….the same tournament where I picked up my first tournament skunk.  I have had my truck broken into twice on Yellow Creek, shot bottle rockets off the bridge into the water, passed out….and in my distant past, grew plants that may one day be legal in our state on the banks far up the creek.  So to say that I love the area would be an even bigger understatement than saying I was excited about the tournament.

But during pre-fishing, I only found a couple of fish in Guices Creek and lost a decent one in Yellow so I was a bit worried.  I also knew I would never be alone in the creek, and that Yellow is pretty sensitive to large numbers of anglers.  But in the end, I chose it because it is truly the place that defined me as an angler.

I pulled up to the launch to find Matt Duckworth and Matt Lake on the ramp, saw Donald Guthrie’s truck – knew he was there (later learned that Kareem Thompson was with him too); assumed that Josh Stewart would be showing up and that James Davis would fish there after dropping off a paddle for Matt Lake.  So six anglers and myself….plus two boats with two anglers each up the creek…..I almost went to Guices; but decided to risk it.

I started up the creek, knowing I was not going much past the first flats and hoping that everyone would pass me and head to the back.  They did, so I fished very slowly until 5:30 giving the water time to “calm” after all of the traffic as I moved into the back of the creek.  I caught three 10-11 inch fish with a fluke along the way…and was a little worried.

Then the shadows dropped across the creek, the temp cooled a bit…and I pulled out the Heddon Zara Spook Jr.

I worked it very hard, trying to draw the fish up…Bam….an 11 inch spot blew up on it.  Good sign.

I moved back in the creek and could hear voices, but saw no one….knowing I was in the best section of the creek…and turned back toward the mouth…

…working the bait very hard over shadows under the water….and you know the sound if you have ever caught a bass over 6lbs on a Spook….and my first thoughts…

“I forgot to sign up for big bass”….it jumped…”I didn’t sign up for big bass”…”damn it”….I pulled it close to the boat, dipped my net, but it wasn’t ready and it dove….under my Hobie…

 

Lesson….push the pedals forward to pull the drive up!!!  YOU KNOW BETTER!

 

…I held my rod under and away from the boat….but it found the drive….and took my Baby Bass Spook with her.

Hate to admit it, but I almost broke my net on the hatch of my Hobie slamming it down…

“I am going to skunk now!!!!”

I dug out another spook – I had no more baby bass – had zero confidence in it.  I had tried to find some at Academy…but some of you had bought them all!  “I am going to skunk in this tourney again!!”

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About a hundred yards later…17 plus incher blew up…then some shorts…by now it was after 6 and I knew the window was about an hour to an hour and a half that the bite would continue…so I started pedaling fast and chunking at targets…

I passed James who was in one of my favorite spots…and moved to a flat…missed a decent one before a good one blew up on the spook and was hooked…

It took me straight into wood and I pedaled as fast as I could to see that it was gone.  I had seen it and knew it was 17 plus…dang it!

 

Lesson two…I forgot to mention that my line breaking earlier may have been due in part to the fact that I was working this spook (crashing it hard) with 8 lb test I had used at Lanier…the lesson…8 lb ain’t quite enough for hammerin’ a spook over wood.

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Anyway….less than fifty yards away was a spot I knew usually held fish….CRASH…19 plus….YES!!…one more…

Twenty feet later….12 inches….a limit!!

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I did something I never do…I looked to see where I was in the standings…it was almost seven, I knew the creek bite was going to die…so I looked.  I was leading.

James had come up beside me, we had talked about measuring fish at the FLW event, so we spent some time measuring the 12 to show how I do it…and then I told him how I had been catching them and we slowly worked back to the ramp.

I upgraded the 12 to a 12.5….and pulled off the water at dark – I do not fish in the dark…..then I parked at the check in till everyone was there.

The check ins I must confess are my favorite part of every tournament.  You get to see old friends, make new friends…laugh at, with and about everyone there….and just enjoy the camaraderie that comes with our community.

And these guys (you CAKFG folks – old and new) are the most special to me.  They are the first kayakers I met, the first I really knew…and to be honest, the most supportive bunch I have ever been a part of….love you guys!!!  Thanks Greg Phipps for introducing me to them….so much.

All in all, it was a good day.

 

..no retrial…please…

My Joy and I have been married just short of 8 years.  We started talking to each other just a few days over 8 years ago.  And during all of that time, I have told her not to buy me anything for Christmas, birthday…any day…but as good as I know her hearing to be; it goes unheard.  I am not complaining, but it is that our life together is….well, we are blessed so there is nothing I need.

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Dishrag and Sis with Bomma (Joy)

My birthday is…very soon…and she had every intention of buying me a Torqueedo or some other trolling motor for my kayak.  It is not that I do not plan to add a motor at some point to stay competitive, I just am not sure which route I plan to pursue.  I had to beg and threaten her not to do so; and for the first time in 8 years…she listened; no non-refundable gift certificate, no “I did it anyway”, no fake holiday reason to buy me something regardless of what I say (although she did give me a check that I may use one day).

 

But Joy being Joy…she had to do something.

 

On one of our adventures, we had picked up a floating Cypress knee (pretty sure it was from Caddo Lake in Louisiana); she loves driftwood and makes some cool things from it.

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These become gifts, planters or just “stuff” around our house.

She can draw, knit, make stuff I cannot imagine….write legibly (I wish I could)….

 

….One thing she had never done, carved in wood….

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This woman, who I do not deserve for the record, went to our local farmers market and talked with some local wood carvers….asked them for some info…then took that Cypress knee and carved a fish in it for my birthday.  Not only does she support my need to fish, and allows me the time to write…and to scout waters, and talk on the phone about fishing….and buy too much fishing stuff…she spends her free time doing this for me.

 

Man oh man….I really don’t deserve her….but whatever judge in the Karmic justice system put her here….thanks for the mistake!!

thank you…that is all…

I wanted to do a quick post about the FLW/KBF/DeeZee/Yakattack….and all of the other sponsors listed on the kayak village banner.

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Thank you!.  This was one of the most incredible events!

I also want to mention TRC covers who gave all of the KBF competitors a free rod cover!  You didn’t have to do that, but it was greatly appreciated!

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I feel a need to mention Chad, Joe, Richard, Amanda, Josh and Dwayne.  You guys rocked it last week!  Thank you!

And to Clint Henderson….

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Congrats Brother!  It was a pleasure to meet you on the water, and to talk with you after the event.  thanks for finding the time for me….

Hank Parker…no pic…you kidding me!

Back home from the KBF/FLW event on Lake Oauchita….working on a formal recap, but this is my personal “I always dreamed of being here, there goes Hank Parker, this was AWESOME (except for only finishing 24th – but it was out of 72 anglers)” post.  To be honest, I don’t want to spend time talking about the fishing; though it is a beautiful lake, it was tough….I would rather just talk about the experience…from my viewpoint…from the perspective of a guy who believes in the kayak community, that this community does exist, and is real and full of great folks who care about each other; that KBF, Hobie and the hundreds of local kayak groups are all a part of…one family with a passion for being in plastic boats (I always hear Scott Beutjer’s voice when I say or type plastic boats!) – fishing, paddling, pedaling, motoring or just floating.

Let me get this out of the way first….

I made the biggest fan errors of my life at one of the biggest events of my life!  The backstory…my favorite bait for bass fishing (that isn’t a top water bait) is the spinner bait.  Not just any spinner bait…the Mann’s Classic spinnerbait marketed with Hank Parker’s name on it back in the day.  There was a show I watched that showed Hank talking about the St. James River, and his technique, that had me buy one…and keeps me buying them (when I can find them!) when I lose ‘em….and got me 7th in the 2018 KBF National Championship…

…and here he was, walking past me while I was not only attending, but being a part of an FLW event (a dream!)…and I chased him like some crazed stalker, introduced myself…talked about his time in Hobie’s….then said thank you for the time and walked away…without a picture!!!!  I had finally met one of the biggest influencers of my fishing, in my (limited) success as an angler…and I didn’t take a picture, didn’t even ask!  I had 2000 dollars or more in cameras and lenses hanging around my body, a cell phone….and not a picture!!!!   Fail!  I did capture a pic (or fifty) of him on stage.

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So…back to the KBF/FLW event….we made it to Arkansas barely in time for the dinner with DeeZee, YakAttack and the folks from FLW.  Joy and I had just met Arlie Minton’s wife Crystal (I already knew Arlie), Darrell Cornelius and his wife Tanya, Jim Davis (fellow Tennessee dude whom I also knew), George Nemeth….and we talked as if we were life-long friends.  While none of us were strangers…we were all already Facebook kinda friends, not all real friends, the “I know you?  I think we are friends on Facebook” who share a common interest friends….I sat there thinking this is the kind of folks that kayak tournament fishing attracts. Good folks who enjoy sharing time with fellow humans, and while kayaking broke the ice, it was not long before we discussed occupations and families.  Joking and laughing with and about each other, we formed new bonds (now real friends as far as I am concerned!) that will be among my most cherished memories when I cannot pedal out any longer.

Darrell Cornelius and his wife Tanya talking with some of the anglers
Darrell Cornelius and his wife Tanya talking with some of the KBF anglers

During the line to get our food, you could hear people talking and laughing…we were about to fish for a lot of money (a lot of recognition), but you didn’t hear any of that in the conversations.  There was a bit of pre-fishing talk, but for the most part it was old and new friends enjoying each other…strengthening the connections that pull this community together and make it strong.

The days I spent on the water, the area I chose was shared with George Nemeth.  We talked about what was and wasn’t working for us, where we were from, what brought us to Arkansas…smiled together about how bad our day was going…thinking about it, those days make me miss the interactions if I go a couple of weeks without a tournament.

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George Nemeth doing “something” for the camera
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Bogdan Korostetskyi winner of the first FLW tournament was posing
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it was truly a family event…Mike Eady brought his own fan club!

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Joy and Crystal…waiting on us to get done with check-in

Found a pic of Arlie…well, Henry hooked me up! Henry, Arlie, Crystal and George

When Henry Veggian talked on the biggest stage of anyone’s fishing career after landing in 7th place…he thanked the folks at Albright’s Sunshine Store and Cafe.  I mean, the biggest event and he recognized a local place that had become a part of Dwayne Walley, Cory Dreyer, Shelly Efird, George Nemeth and his own stories during their time in Arkansas.  They had all been sharing a house together and found a local place that adopted them; and they appreciated each other.  Other than announcing Clint Henderson as the champion…and the two Arkansas guys Garret Morgan (3rd place) and Dwain Batey (2nd place)…and this were still very close in comparison…no other words elicited the response that Henry’s words did – the crowd cheered like the café had won….the next time I am in the area, rest assured that I will be finding the Sunshine Store and Cafe in Arkansas!

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I bring this up because it too reminds me about the spirit of this group.  It reminds me that I am a part of something bigger than us all…again, whether you believe it or not….this community, this willingness to share the stage with people who just in passing touch your life…I am all in for life!  When you hear what else Henry was willing to share on tournament day (read official recap coming soon); you will truly feel the soul of this group…I love it!!!

Well, need to work on the official recap.  I just wanted to say how proud I am to have been a part of this KBF/FLW/DeeZee/YakAttack/TourneyX event on Lake Ouachita. Say what you will about Chad Hoover, KBF, the Hobie BOS and AJ Mcwhorter…me, my mama…my daddy… (not Joy, dishrag or sis; we might just throw down)…..this was an excellent event…this is an excellent group of folks…and I am grateful and so blessed to be part of all that the community is and has to offer.

peace

also:

Want to give a personal shout out to the folks at the Rose Retreat, the place where Joy and I stayed in Hot Springs Arkansas.  They have built a little space close to town (walking distance) with several little cottages – ours was the Monet’s Cottage.  It isn’t the kind of place you would take a group of guys to spend a week fishing, but it was a great place for Joy to spend the day knitting and reading while I was on the lake.  Cindy and Jim didn’t realize I was bringing a trailered kayak with me, but even with limited parking for all of the other guests, still found a way to make it work for us.  Each and every day, we talked about fishing and they always asked how I had done on the lake.  If you go back to the area and need a clean, quiet and well-appointed space for the trip….check them out on Evolve.  And don’t miss the tiny Elvis gnome….or the pirate out front…quirky cool kinda place!