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!

recap Ohio….and the Big Butter Man…

The reality of trying to maintain a full time job and chase tournaments is far from the romantic version that plays in my head during meetings…and not the version I tell most people who ask.  I mean how do you turn working long hours as a manufacturing engineer, then driving anywhere from one to thirteen hours (one way) every weekend into a good idea that can be explained to anyone?  I even ask myself if it is just a mid life crisis that has consumed me; left me incapable of rational thought or normalcy?  Then on top of that, I spend what little free time I have – time I should be sleeping – on this Macbook writing about it all; trying with all my soul to turn this into a living knowing the odds are against a soon to be 57 year old with a bad back and possibly worse heart.

Just last weekend I left work late in the afternoon, drove home, loaded up my Tennessee Trailer that always holds my Hobie PA14 in my two and a half car garage that I cannot walk through for the kayaks, fishing gear, camping gear, Halloween decorations (the only real holiday)…the boat that has only been out of the garage twice – once to wash it, once to replace the water heater – in the last two years.  Back on track…loaded up the kayak and drove just shy of nine hours to the KBF East/West Harbor event with Joy (got there after midnight), slept in a Wal-Mart parking lot about twenty minutes outside the boundaries for three hours; watched her sleep for a while wondering what she thinks about my insanity, wondering if she regrets riding up with me and sleeping in the parking lot…then rolled up to a launch, blind, and pushed the kayak off the trailer.  I fished the entire day, losing a limit of good fish…caught some smaller fish…and one 18 inch largemouth (my only measurable keeper).  Then I loaded up the kayak, drove to check-in…..and in spite of the sucky finish….I talked and laughed with fellow anglers (friends and extended family) as if I had finished in the top ten.

It was an incredible event hosted by the MI-OH Kayak Anglers and the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail; an event that was above average.  With the extra sponsorship and prizes provided by Dakota Lithium, I was more than impressed…but it was more about seeing Tim Issacs back on the water, talking with Matt Ball and meeting his wife, reminiscing with Russell Johnson and Casey Reed about the perfect day we spent on lake 14 at Bienville, watching the guys who figured it out and learning how they did it……talking about the New River with Mark Edwards and silently wishing it had not been on the same day so I could have gone to that event….laughing with Jim Strunk about how bad the day sucked for me…

Then Joy and I drove part of the way home (she had to drive a bit) and stopped to see the sight of Big Butter Jesus.  I hope I don’t offend anyone, I promise that is not my intent, but Joy had told me about the Big Butter Jesus song….and though it isn’t the original Big Butter Jesus, I couldn’t resist.  It is part of what we do when we travel to tournaments, stop at odd things or places (or drive 7 more hours to Niagra Falls)….and it was a bit weird as I stood on the grounds and looked up at the EXTREMELY large statue of Jesus with that silly song in my head as a sermon played over the sound of the fountains.

We made it home Saturday night, after midnight, and I finally slept good.

I woke Sunday, having stunk up Ohio, exhausted….and I still smiled and decided that I will be going to the FLW tournament.  I had just had close to my worst performance since stepping in a kayak (top five worst!) and I was still so freaking happy that I had gone…that there are more coming…

I just read what I had typed and am thinking that I should look up the number to some therapist in case I am lost in a crisis; in case I have stepped over the edge, I mean it isn’t like I…well…like…where was I….

… what lures should I carry to Arkansas, how do I make sure I finish well enough locally to make the Tennessee State Championship, LaCrosse in October, where is the next Hobie BOS…what can I do to get more time off from work…when does the new Hobie 360 come out!

 

So there is no way to make sense of it….unless you are one of those who drove that far or will be driving that far soon.  There is no way to paint a pretty picture that will sell anyone who doesn’t have the addiction on the idea that they should join up and chase the tournaments with us.  So I ain’t even gonna try to make sense of it.  I only know one thing to do….look for the next event; find the next foamhenge, big ball of twine or Wal-Mart parking lot…

Got a brand new plan….

How do you decide where to launch for tournaments when your pre-fishing has revealed nothing about where the fish are located?

You are on Kentucky Lake, the water is 87-90 degrees (in the shade), you fished a local CAKFG tournament the week before with mediocre results…they have opened up Barkley, but you haven’t fished your bestest most favoritest spots since February or March…the guys who dominated the CAKFG were in an area you never fished, but you know exactly where they are; but that would be wrong to take a guys spot when you know he always fishes there…..wouldn’t it?  You call some friends and they tell you that maybe fish will be in a certain spot, but that again is another spot you have never fished….what to do….

It is Thursday before the tournament and you still haven’t signed up and you are finding hundreds of excuses why you should just stay home; it is going to be super hot, super humid, super sunny….super silly to try that escape route, because you know you are going anyway….then you sign up.  Scouring Hummingbird maps, Navionics and your memory is not shedding any light – and no one is finding fish on the legendary ledges of Kentucky Lake anyway – plus, you have to work all week, so no time is left….

Well, not sure what everyone else does, but I signed up on Friday.  Then I loaded up my kayak when I made it home from work.  Then I ate, rigged up a rod or two with random “I have no clue where I am going or what to fish with” stuff; Rapala Skitterpop, Gary Yamamoto Senko, Mann’s Classic Spinnerbait, small Charlie Brewer swimbait, a Rapala squarebill craw pattern crankbait, a Texas rigged (nothing on it) setup and a Heddon Spook Jr…when in doubt, always have extra top water tied on is my theory.  Then I watched some TV with my Joy….and dozed off about midnight.

Woke up at two, still with no clue or no idea what to do…pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote down my favorite Barkley spot (Yellow Creek), a maybe spot (secret now), another maybe spot (Standing Rock) and the spot where I was mediocre (Byrd Bay)….tore them apart, folded them in half and chose out of a hat.  I didn’t like the first draw because I had never fished it, so I said the first place I drew out more than one was the choice.  It ended up as the first place I drew out anyway….so I drove out of the driveway toward Kentucky Lake.

About the third cast, lost a 19-20 inch (had changed to a whopper plopper while pedaling to the spot in my Hobie) on a Whopper Plopper.  Then caught about 4 more from the same spot.

Then they stopped biting.

Switched to the Charlie Brewer, caught an 18+ and a 19.5….and several more.

Moved to another spot at 10 am.

Pedaled across a bay and decided that I was done about 12:45 because the oppressive heat had beaten me to submission and I was certain that death was imminent.

Loaded up.

Drove to Paris.

Ended up third in the KBF Pro Division and 10th in the Trail.

 

Sitting here writing names on a sheet of paper for the next three tournaments.

Skipping the map study; it really hasn’t paid off this year.

Going to try what worked.

 

Also, I received a lesson from young Cortland Atkins that I plan to deploy from this point forward. His dad Jeff had left this on my desk last week (yes, I used it during the Kentucky Lake event).  It seems that he had caught a fish while they were out, and then proceeded to give lessons.

I am too hard headed and stubborn to listen most days…and I am usually not one to steal others ideas, but since I am giving credit it doesn’t feel like theft….and it is one of the problems I have been having…getting back to basics….

Since I am certain he wouldn’t mind if you used his knowledge (and out of the mouth of babes comes wisdom – well, as it is said today anyway, not the true biblical quote), I am going to share his roadmap to success.

 

very unofficial recap of Chick….but mine.

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.

 

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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.

 

 

Night one….

Usually a recap will start with some fishing news, but we were robbed at the campsite.

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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.

Day one….

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.

 

Night two….

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.

 

 

Tournament day….

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….

1.

Joy told me not to take the St. Clair trip away – she was looking forward to it.

2.

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.

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3.

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)

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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.

 

Peace.

Orange slices of life….

Joy and I are sitting in a hotel somewhere in Ohio, seven hours from home.  Tired.  We stopped for gas and decided that we were not going to get started again.  Armed with snacks we have settled in to sleep, something I personally haven’t done a lot of the last few days.

Leaving Clarksville after work on Thursday, we headed to the KBF event on Lake St. Clair in Michigan; and arrived around two in the morning.  Slept for a couple of hours, then I headed out to see St. Clair for the first time.  It was a bit much at first, big water with very little in the way of the structure I am accustomed to on Barkley and Kentucky Lakes.  After an hour or so, I started finding largemouth around the canals and outside their exits into the main lake.

I pedaled out looking for something I could hang my hat on. I really didn’t understand how to fish there but I was finding a lot of fish…largemouth, rock bass, (it appeared to be) a hybrid stripe, white bass, a pike.

I kept pedaling and watching bass boats and how they related to the lake.  I went around the point and found a spot where at least one fourth of the KBF competitors seemed to be fishing and I just watched; trying to learn.

The next morning, I went to the launch armed with the confidence that I could catch an early limit of largemouth…then move off shore to fish.  I spoke with some local KBF guys who told me to find the grass and “they will be there”.  That is what I had learned the day before…so I felt pretty solid that I had a plan that would allow me to be successful.

Due to the launch time, I pedaled out and sat on the swells for an hour…let’s change the first cast time next event…and waited.  I watched a couple of guys in a boat slaying walleye and the occasional smallmouth going up and down…up and down….then 7 am.  I started catching bass, I started catching rock bass….I eventually moved over and pulled a 13 inch smallmouth (my first St. Clair smallie!).  I knew I was going to….moving up and down….up and down…looking down to take pics….measuring….up and…

……I have known for years that I cannot play video games.  I know that I cannot even watch people play video games.  It makes me sick. Extremely and violently ill.  I also know that I have been on a boat to the Bahamas, been on Kentucky Lake and Barkley in some winds…all with no affect…

…but that up and down….up and dow…..

….I took a pic of the smallie….looked up for the fifth time after trying my best to get a pic….

…no….please no!!!….

….and up came everything….and up came breakfast….and up came nothing….dry heaves doubling me over….and up came the water I tried to rinse my mouth with….

….and down went my optimism for the day….and up came the Diet Pepsi…..and down into the canals I went.

I was reeling, still feeling the waves.  I fished the canals and finished out my limit…and thought screw it.  I am going back out and find the smallies!  I am going to lose this without the big ‘uns.

…And out I went…

….and up and down…up and down….up….and out came the water I was drinking trying to rehydrate myself from the first round….and up came the few cashews I had eaten….and up came nothing…the dry heaves doubling me over….

…and dreams of smallies flashed before my eyes as I pedaled into the safety of the backwaters and proceeded to absolutely smash the 15 inch largemouth bass…still moving…up and down…up and down in the calm water; the motion was all internal now, but real.

In an MLF event, I would have been a contender…I was catching them every other cast for about an hour. It seems I had found a minefield of beds and slayed ‘em….me and my “can’t ride the waves” wimpy self.

…anyway….I finished 11th in the pro division…and 37th overall….but at least I can now hold down water.  And I will be back pumped full of Dramamine or one of the other cures for motion sickness that I now know exist.  St. Clair….I will be back!

 

Immediately after the tourney, Joy and I headed to Niagra Falls.

You see, we learned how valuable the time we have on this earth is…how few the seconds really are…several years ago.  And all weekend, I have been thinking about why driving to Michigan to fish then leaving for New York when I live in Tennessee may seem ridiculous to most; it would have to me ten years ago. But we stopped to smell the “roses”….well, they didn’t have roses but…

I drove most of the way – Joy drove some last night cause I was really still pretty freaking sick – thinking about Tim Isaacs just going through the same thing I did.  I replayed all of the days immediately following the surgery….the dreams, the first time I coughed (I said they could keep their stupid Sir Coughs A lot bear until I did cough a lot..then I hugged that stupid thing!!!), not being able to sleep in my bed….not being able to walk up the front steps to my house…glad I was alive, but some days wishing I wasn’t…then the first mile I walked…then the 5K I walked just to prove that I was ok after quadruple bypass – life wasn’t over.

When I realized I was alive, and I felt better than I ever had in my life…I decided to not sit back and “wish I had”.  Too much of my life spent “wishing” or wasted with one of the many addictions I let control my world already…no regrets, I like who it all made me…but no more “maybe I should”….let’s do it.  I have a woman who loves me, who supports me…who understands how close we came to me not even existing, to us being over; who gets the importance of each second we share and my hunger to live fully…our shared hunger.

 

So work Thursday, St Clair Friday and Saturday, Niagra Falls Sunday

….now tired as hell, sitting in a hotel room somewhere in Ohio seven hours from home….smiling.  I will be home tomorrow…deciding do I drive to Lake Fork Friday night to fish Saturday and Sunday, or make the local tournament I need to hopefully qualify for the Tennessee State Kayak Championship….hmmmm.  Either way….finish 1st or 37th….or last….I am doing .  I am living every day.  I am having a blast!

 

And St. Clair….I will be back….

 

 

Tim….thinking about you everyday brother.  Cannot wait until the day you are back on the water.

Many Hobie memories….more to come…

The setting for the Hobie BOS last weekend was Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, and as always, it was a well managed tournament.  With AJ, Kevin and Morgan at the helm; Michael Christopher on site to address any potential issues with iAngler…the venue at Kentucky Dam VillageElena Blevins of the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau…the Hobie reps and Calvert City providing incredible meals of barbeque and fried fish… this has become one of my favorite events.  I have already written it in ink for next year.  If you only plan to fish a single tournament next year…make it this one.

 

Let’s get the personal recap out of the way…

Day One:

I fished.

I caught a lot of fish on day one; Whopper Plopper, Skitterpop, Gary Yamamoto Senkos, Mann’s Classic Spinner Baits…moved from Kentucky to Barkley around ten…caught more fish on senkos. The issue is they all looked the same – like they had been poured out of dink molds onto my Ketch board.  I finished in 43rd place (I think) with a tiny limit.

Day Two:

I gambled on Barkley Lake because I cut my teeth on it (well, I learned to fish just south east of 79, but I got as close as I was allowed to home!).  The location I chose was not going to be protected from the weather at all…but I was certain I could get an early bite and maybe pull it off, but I also knew the wind would be kicking my butt with the predicted gusts.

The early bite was there, I caught all but two of my fish by circling a clump of grass the size of my house throwing first a Whopper Plopper, then the Mann’s Classic spinner bait (yes, in white with a chartreuse grub – tail always up!).  I lost one because I was watching the spinnerbait; I love to watch it coming across and through the tops of grass…then see the flash as it disappears in the mouth of a big ‘un.  Well, a BIG ‘UN flashed on it…I saw the mouth open and tried to stop myself…but I pulled as it bumped it…I didn’t wait for it to disappear…and 20 plus inches swam off.

I beat that patch of grass up, moved over behind the Bumpus Mills Marina…yes I just fessed up where I was…and caught two 15s in front a boat guy who seemed to get angry that I pulled them from under a walkway (with a Rapala Skitterpop in pouring rain) as he sat under a dock trying to stay out of the weather…should been fishing is all I can say! Then the bite was over.  I caught a couple of 12s, but my day was done early; and the wind beat me up the rest of the day as I predicted.

Anyway…I finished the tournament in 19th overall.  Top twenty in the list of anglers at this event…I will take that any day!  ‘Nuff about my fishing.

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I had an amazing time talking with all of the folks….learned that Tom Monohan thinks his kayak needs training wheels, saw Jay Minor, Ben Meredith and Jim Orr wreck ‘em on day one…didn’t recognize Jessi without her hat; she cleans up pretty good…commiserated with Nathan, Monohan, Lambert, Jimmy (and others) after day one…saw Trey Johnson end up in the front, Kris Hummel in the top twenty…and learned that I cannot flip nor pitch at all, especially onto a cornhole board!  Talked with Jaxton, always great seeing this young man do well…but do not make me tell you again…it is Mike not Mr. Cheatham!  Finally met Alan Reed properly…laughed with the KBFTN and WTBY guys…had a blast just being part of it!

I have to confess there have been a couple of moments with people I consider my friends that affected me, catching me off guard during the few years I have been tournament fishing. Actually many things and people have touched me; compelled me to share….but three occurred on Sunday as AJ announced the results.

One…

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…Jaxton Orr thanked his dad for being there as he talked about his top ten finish; then his father came over to him as he sat back at the table beside me.

I have watched these two over the last year and love that they are sharing these experiences together.  It is a beautiful relationship, and that interaction was an emotional one for me; it took me back to good times with my dad.

 

Two…

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….that moment when Josh Stewart looked at Kristine Fischer as they both realized she had won the tournament.

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The genuine happiness that he showed for a fellow angler (both solid competitors) as he knew it was her…and her reaction will forever follow this ‘ole boy and be something I mention when I talk about why I love this kayak fishing stuff!

Dang it…not since Josh had talked about his grandmother at the National Championship two years ago had I been forced to wipe a tear out of the way.  Yeah, I said it…tears.

 

Three…

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…the way AJ beamed with pride and the way she smiled at him…I almost felt guilty for being in the middle of that extremely personal moment…but it still makes me happy for them and the future they will share.  The hug…

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…y’all need to stop…I have a reputation outside of this community and the tearing up is wrecking it!

 

I am at best (my opinion) a slightly above average angler.  I love taking pictures, fishing and writing about fishing with all of the competitors I meet at events.  Now and then, I do all right in the tournament…but am ok when I just don’t do as well.

It is the competition and the community that has so captured my soul…I am blessed to be able to be a part of it!   Moments like these are all a part of the attraction to me!

 

Congrats to Kristine, and the top ten!

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Note…

I know this is not a solid recap of the event (more like rambling about stuff in my head) and doesn’t begin to capture the essence of Kentucky, Barkley Lakes and our hosts, but it is what I love about the community…

…and since I slept about three hours a night after driving back and forth from my house to Kentucky I am too tired to sit up all night writing; my truck smells like wet fish, wet rain gear, wet tackle bags that have started to ferment or morph into something that scared me when I got in it after the event (was worse this morning as I headed to my day job), wet socks – who knows what is forming under the seats…I may circle back and do the event justice…but since I have to put on a hazardous material suit to clean out the Titan before heading to St. Clair for the KBF event next weekend…maybe not.  The personal experience for me may just be enough this time.

Peace.