2:10…day two of the NC, also the final day of the KBF Trail Championship. I am sitting at just under 80 inches, acutely aware that one decent upgrade will get me into the KBF Ten. I toss a Baby Bass Yamamoto Senko under a dock that I had pulled a bass from the day before; using a Zoom Bubble Gum Fluke on that day.
Oh…forgot to mention that I was having some mechanical issues. Issues that, in the wind, made it virtually impossible to hold my kayak in the position I needed to be in….
…I toss the Senko under the dock as the wind pushes me father back toward the walkway to the dock. I hear the bass bust the water as the bait skips about ten feet under the dock. I reel, and finally feel it; set the hook. As I do, the motion immediately starts pulling me under the dock and the bass wraps around an old support and jumps. I see it. It is at a conservative 18 inches. With a 14 on the board, I know that this is the one!! This is it….the TEN!
As my kayak goes under the dock, up to the pedals, I raise my legs up to keep from going completely under the structure. I start kicking against the dock as the fish unwraps itself and jumps again; dang….closer to 20 inches!
I am still laying back with my feet on the dock as it gets almost within reach of me. I pull out the net (with one foot face high trying to keep me from under the dock) and it dives. Before I can get my foot on the pedals and raise the fins, the fish is tangled in them. I hear it bump the bottom of the kayak.
Definitely between 19 and 20 inches, the Ten…in the money for the Championship…all of it disappeared as I dropped my foot and reached under the kayak with the net. It was gone. It was over.
I tossed back in and caught a fourteen, but that wasn’t the one. 2:30; I headed toward the ramp with a tear in my eye. Dang it.
I fished day three of the Championship and lost over five fish under docks. At least two were ok, the others I have no idea. All as the wind pushed me past a point where I could get a good hookset and land them.
Lost opportunity is fishing, is life sometimes.
I stayed in a house with Rus Snyders, George Nemeth, Matt Scotch and Zack Soulliere. We talked about fishing, about kayaks and about past adventures. Rus, George and Zack (along with Jimmy, Chuck and myself) were part of Team Smisek’s Custom Baits.
I spent some time with Billy Reynolds, the first guy I met during my first KBF event, and his partner in crime Steve Leaman; I had stayed with them at an event on Guntersville before, those two are a blast.
I fished with Jimmy Mcclurken and Chuck Mizer. The three of us sat on a school of fish for an hour taking turns pulling them in. I talked with all of the folks from Clarksville at the Guntersville State Park; Jimmy, Chuck, Ron Himmelhaver, Bobby Brown and Raymond Jones.
I saw old friends Cory Dreyer, Jody Queen, Greg Hurt and Casey Reed at our ramp for the three days.
I talked (making new friends) with Tricia Angelini Luciano and Simon Morgan as we beat up the same half mile of creek for three days; another new friend from that ramp, Nick McGuire and I discussed kayaks and techniques before and after each launch. Met some folks I had interviewed (but have never met) at the event; talked with some folks I had never met.
It was incredible.
Covid has had such an impact on our lives. It had been a long time since I had been able to participate in the fellowship and community, been able to share it with so many members of the kayak world – as face to face as we can get at the current moment – and I had missed it.
I sat on the ramp after day two, loading my gear knowing what I had missed the Ten and the money, and didn’t feel down about it. I was looking around at all the other anglers talking and laughing; replaying the day.
In that moment, I realized that I want to win (I really do!) but I don’t have to win to be satisfied with a tournament.
I am fortunate to have a good job that pays me, a wife that loves and supports me and I am at least healthy enough to make the trek to each event. I get to do something I love, with people I love supported by those I love…and my kayak family just keeps growing.
So I fished day three of the KBF National Championship…. and lost over five fish under docks. I would have loved to win the tournament. I would have loved to finished higher…but I didn’t need it to be satisfied with the event; nope…I had been blessed with all I needed from Guntersville.