7th place trophy…….

On March 9th, I posted a pic from the internet of my first Hobie. It was a Hobie Hustler skateboard from the 70’s, not the original I owned. It was almost the same color as the PA12 we purchased from Caney Fork Outdoors, and I had ridden it for a few summers in Tennessee.

See cast….not like in the credits…like on the broken arm….from those summers….

I talked about that post with my Joy and Logan at Caney Fork. They talked about how cool it would be if I still had that board. My first thought was yeah, my second was that I would have killed myself by now. In my early twenties, way too long after spending every day on it, I took that Hobie to a playground across the street from where I was living and tried to ride it down a slide…..well, you can imagine the results; the first part of my body that touched the bottom of that slide was my chest…then my face…you get the image. The board had flown of the other side and down the steps. I am still cringing from that memory as I write about the events that followed that conversation.

My Joy….well….you would just have to know her to understand the efforts she goes to in supporting me and my fishing; or anything she thinks would make me happy. I do not deserve her, and I will never understand what she sees in me….I digress…she loves me and that is enough.

I came home the day before the KBF National Championship awards ceremony, knowing I had done fairly well, to a card. Inside it was a picture of a skateboard – the Hobie Hustler – she had ordered off of the internet as a trophy for “her champion” (told you I don’t deserve her).

It was not here yet, but it was on the way!

She said she thought maybe it could have been mine.

I told her that wasn’t possible.

She said don’t ruin my dream!

I said mine had anti slip tape I had added.

She said…..well, not typing that…I am going to clean it up to “no way!”.

I asked what was wrong – she usually doesn’t use the words she used, especially strung together.

She pulled up a pic on her phone and showed me. This is one I didn’t get because it had the tape on it.

I took her phone and looked at it.

She said it just sold.

I looked closer.

She said it was sold in Allen, TX.

I looked closer.

She said it had been from yard sale to garage sale to some dude in Ohio yesterday.

I picked up my phone and called my brother.

Hey where did your boy live in Texas?

Just outside of Dallas….

Did he live in Allen?

No, but he went to school there.

Bye…

I looked at the pic again.

Joy asked me what was wrong.

I told her, that this looked like it, and the locations fit….and ….and…had she found the thing?

More words strung together by her – I most definitely am not the best influence on her!

I could have gotten that one….(*&%(&$^&$……..

I had given the Hobie to my nephew during a visit. I had no use for it, and thought he might like riding it in Texas, just outside of Dallas. There is no way this was real, but I can remember how I had cut the anti-skid tape and wished there was more to cover more area. I really didn’t want her to think she had come that close…but man. This was it.

I messed up didn’t I?

No Joy, it was a great thing you did.

But I could have had that one!

It is ok…it is just a thing.

Man I could have had the one you had as a kid!

It is ok.

Again, you would have to know my Joy to understand that it was never going to be ok. She took the time to message the seller on Ebay asking him to forward her information to the buyer.

He did.

They contacted each other.

Doug Weeks listened to the story. He appreciated the whole thing. His girlfriend Kelley told him what he had to do…and Joy offered to cover any costs for the swap….so….

I now have what I am fairly certain is my Original Hobie. A Hobie Hustler skateboard (Papaya too??) with anti-skid tape put on by a young kid who never imagined the journey it would take to land back under his feet at almost 56 yrs old.

The money I won for 7th place was pretty freaking awesome; but the trophy my Joy went through all of that effort to get for me…and the kindness of a stranger to help her….

…..sometimes you just cannot explain why the world turns the way it does….

APR overboard….

I am going to share the technique(s) I used during the National Championship; or more accurately, the discussion I had with several folks after exposing the lure I used.

Now before this goes on, there are hundreds of ways to do anything….this is just about what worked for me in the location I was in, under the conditions of those two days. Disclaimer over.

I am predominately a Barkley guy, it is where I cut my bass fishing teeth; but I know that Kentucky can produce some large bass this time of year. I tried 6 locations on Barkley and three on Kentucky Lake. I quickly narrowed down my choices. I caught fish at all but my favorite spot on Barkley with the same lure; a lure that had won me our local club opener on Kentucky Lake.

A week earlier I would have gone after that spot on Kentucky Lake (over 90 inches and quit two hours early) knowing it would be overpopulated with kayaks for the Championship. But, the water dropped 10-12 ft and it would take an Uber to deliver me far enough on the shore to reach the bushes where the fish had been stacked. So, I punted.

Now I know my favorite spot had the potential to win, someone almost did from there, but I had not even felt a bluegill tick any lure I put in the water. The quality of bass at all but one other was not what I felt would give me a chance.

So, after stopping at the place I learned to fish top water for the third time and catching another 20+ inch fish, I chose.

The one consistent thing in all of those trips and the club opener was the lure choice that was producing. It was a Mann’s Classic spinnerbait with a willow leaf/colorado combination that had pulled in the largest bass and gave me the most confidence. I was not quite slow rolling it, but I kept it barely visible from the surface; and saw the flash of the bass as they took it.

The Mann’s classic has a very thin wire which leaves it susceptible to damage, but also maximizes the vibration I feel through the rod. I had replaced the skirt with a fairly clear version with just traces of red. And as I always do (and always will do) I had a chartreuse grub as the trailer.

The lure used for the CAKFG opener and the KBF National Championship.

Gonna put that down there for a second – ‘cause that grub (with the tail rigged up, ALWAYS UP) provoked some serious discussion I want to recap.

Day 1.

I flew to the ramp early to beat any traffic. Got there first – all good.

Ben Lowery and his son Evan showed up soon after – still all good.

Then an RV showed up pulling an Armada of kayaks! Dang it! I kept looking over my shoulder with my hands on the Hobie…knowing I could not block the ramp with good conscience…but….but….

Then they drove off leaving a guy from Chicago – all good, as soon as my heart calmed down.

Once we launched, I moved the long distance to my spot.

6:30, cast one….cast two 13 inches, cast four 14+ inches….cast 7, 20+….oh yeah!!!! I own this!

My fish had shown up, my spinner bait vibrated ticking rocks and sticks until the heavy thump of a largemouth pulling it in (grub tail up!) to feed.

All in 86.25 inches by early morning but the bite turned off.

I had to ride that length to 7th after day one, only catching small fish until lines out.

Day 2

I flew to the ramp early to beat any traffic. Got there first – all good.

Ben Lowery and his son Evan showed up soon after – still all good.

A van showed up from Georgia – Will Clements.

I kept looking over my shoulder with my hands on the Hobie…knowing I could not block the ramp with good conscience…but….but….

Then we talked. Will was headed far from my spot…should have followed, he landed in fourth overall!

6:30, cast one….cast two 0 inches, cast four 0 inches….cast 7, 0 inches….oh no!!!!

7:30

8:30

Moved a couple of times before going back there; I knew my spot reloaded. I had discovered that during the week. It was never the same time.

Around 11, with way less than enough fish to win on the board, I told Ben I could catch some 800 dollar fish toward the main channel. I was down to chasing dinks to stay above the 75th place line!

I put down the Mann’s bait, and put on a shaky head tipped with a 3.5 five inch pumpkin w/black flake Gary Yamamoto craw. Anyone of you who knows me, already having abandoned top water days before the tourney (killed me), can relate to the pain and suffering it caused me to sit still and shake that crawfish. I have caught some big fish on that bait, but my goal was survival!

Shake, shake, shake….tap…15.5 inches. Ok…maybe…

Shake, shake, shake….tap…pretty sure the craw won the fight….for the next two…

Shake, shake, shake….tap…12 inches. Kicked my All Pro Rod overboard………tried to fish it out. It is still there somewhere. The first time in two days I was in water over 3 foot fishing and I hear “bloop”…

…..800 bucks…stay above 75th……

Shake, shake, shake…. Shake, shake, shake…. Shake, shake, shake….shoot me… Shake, shake, shake….dinks, dinks…

The wind picked up a lot, so I went back to see if the spot reloaded…..should have followed Will dang it…nothing. All day long, I did not get a single bite where the day before I had piled them up early.

2:00 – I resigned myself to the fact that a limit was not in the cards…dang it….dang it….4 fish is good…right?

Cast, cast, cast…..not a quitter…….cast, cast, cast….

Ok, I know there is a stump about right….there….thump….drag was loose, grabbed the rod above the reel to hold my line tight while I adjusted the drag….grab the net…YES, YES, YES!

18.25 inches. Almost out of time, and 18.25 inches of relief was sitting in the net!

Did some quick math with my engineer brain – 75 inches….decent. Definitely going to keep me above 75th.

Day three.

I sat as it became harder and harder to breathe – 75-25th…….then 25 to 10th…no one said my name. I was thinking the quadruple bypass from a few years ago had run out and my heart was going to stop.

My Joy was sitting next to me, trying to calm me…didn’t work.

Either I was wrong on my math, or I was still…..

They called me into the back with the top ten!

Gets fuzzy for some time to me here…..

Was awesome talking with the other guys…a lot of Barkley guys in that room!

I saw Joe Haubenreich – “is there a bathroom, I would hate to pee on myself in front of all of those folks!”

At 7th place………my name…….Mike Cheatham………….SWEET!

On stage – what did I even say?!?!?!?

But, 7th place. Worked hard for it. Sweet!

Drove home…took a long nap. Had I even slept for the last three or four days?

Now let’s pick up the Mann’s Classic spinnerbait with the chartreuse grub; tail rigged up; always!

I had no idea the opinions on how wrong I have been all of these years about the orientation of the tail on that grub. In the past three days, I have found 1 person who agrees with me that the tail should be up.

I Googled it, searched forums ( did find some hesitant agreement ), looked images. I talked about it with all of my guys in the CAKFG, a group from WTBY and some random folks sitting behind me at the awards…….the consensus; I am wrong.

And that is ok. I have confidence in the rigging of my spinnerbaits and buzz baits. It is always the same, only the slightest of variation.

I pull out a new bait with a full skirt. If it is not white or clear w/tiny bits of red or blue; I pull it off and throw it away.

If it is the correct color, I take about half of the skirt and pull it off of the bait and throw it away.

Then I add a chartreuse grub…with the dang tail up!!!!…to the baits. If I do not see more grub than skirt, I pull a bit more off and throw it away. Sometimes leaving only 5-10 threads on the bait.

Then I will fish buzz or spinner baits parallel to cover, dropping the spinner out of sight occasionally. This will often trigger strikes. If the temp is low enough, I keep it as slow as possible; just enough to keep the blade vibrating.

Like I said earlier………..million and two ways to do anything. I am a manufacturing engineer, so I have seen how creative people can be about doing things different than designed; every now and then totally amazed! So this is just one of ‘em……….but, I personally think everyone is wrong about the grub…just saying!

Thanks to…

Chad Hoover, Joe Haubenreich, Nik Brown, everyone else involved with the tournament – it was cool.

….all of the sponsors, NRS for the bonus bucks….

…Caney Fork Outdoors for the Hobie PA12, the Bending Branches paddle and the knowledge…and for the opportunity…

….to the CAKFG and WTBY folks for letting me learn along with you……and for making me feel a part of it all….even if you are wrong on the grub….and will always be wrong about the grub….

…and especially to my biggest fan; Joy Lynn….I warned you that encouraging me to chase this need to fish competitively was a bad idea…..but every day, you still push me to do better, to fish more….to believe in myself when I falter. You are still too good for me, but I am going to keep you!

Peace out……………and grubs up!

gotta find the right perspective…

I just finished the 2018 KBF National Championship (7th place– shameless self promoting) and thought I would share something I wrote during the week of pre-fishing. Had I not gained a little perspective, I would have crashed and burned………….

_________________

Last weekend, I was all over them…I could do nothing wrong, cast after cast; bite after bite. I won our first CAKFG tournament – and I quit two hours early (hoping to leave them alone and the water wouldn’t drop almost 10 ft!). 40 boats on the same water that will host the KBFNC, and I was on ‘em! A bass boat came all over my spot, I let him fish…then fished behind him and pulled a 17…then a 19. 76 inches in 4 fish; and more were there.

This week, they are gone.

“where are they?”

“where are the fish!!”

These words have been rolling around in my head with every cast for the last three days. I even caught myself saying them out loud to the wind, and the trees…both could care less.

I have been catching fish.

Today, I had a limit on Kentucky Lake in less than an hour; a 61.25 inch limit…and still…”where are they”….”over there?”…..”across; to that side?”. I loaded up and moved twice.

…I had to take a breath…re-center…

Cleaned out BoHobien Rhapsody (my kayak), cleaned up my lucky duck, changed some line on a reel that didn’t need changing, retied all of my lures, installed a new battery to power the Lowrance; some stuff that needed doing but could have waited.

I sat in the garage with the door open, smelling the approaching storm…the rain. Closed my eyes and listened to the tornado sirens; smiled at the wonder of it all.

Ate dinner with my Joy, went to Lowes, to Dairy Queen for ice cream.

I stopped thinking about “where are the fish” for a bit.

I have to remember that this time last year, I signed up to fish some tournament because all of the guys I had just met were fishing it.   I had no idea what KBF was, what it would become to me. But, fueled by a fourth place finish in the great CAKFG snow tournament of 2017, I said why not.

So I fished the Open. Found fish. Did well.

Ended 19th in the KBF standings by the end of the year. From fishing just to fish….to tournaments almost every weekend…zero to ninety.

And I am a better angler, a better kayaker for it.

But I did not win them all.

And I will not win them all.

And instead of fishing in a frenzy……I am going to take all that I have learned and apply it.

Yep…I know we are fishing for a hundred thousand dollars….and I know that winning the KBFNC is going to change someone’s life forever…and I want it to be me….I believe it can be me…

…but, if it isn’t, I will cheer for whoever it is…

…and then I will chase them the rest of the year!

Tomorrow, I will take the 61 inches and turn it into 62…63…one cast at a time.

_________________

 

…………..now I sit here thinking that the best decision I made during all of my pre-fishing was to stop fishing, and to be just a guy enjoying the day for a bit; not a competitor, not someone trying to conquer a body of water….Just me.

I believe that we can put too much pressure on ourselves. I can push myself too hard; to the point of breaking. I am definitely my biggest critic, questioning everything.

But to put some perspective on it….in the end, it is just fishing – we all started out loving the feel of a fish pulling back, not trying to beat everyone. You gotta have some fun, or it is no better than your day job. My thoughts on it anyway.

Did I mention the field was over 750 anglers….as I depart to the sound of more shameless self promotion….

Berkley Hot Rod and me….

My retirement will be welcomed one day; yours leaves me saddened and a little lost.

How do you say goodbye to an old friend?

What words can be written to capture the joy, the number of smiles that a friend was a part of?

When for over twenty five years, we created memories together…went on adventures together…fought together; how do I do it?

The hundreds (thousands?) of fishing trips we shared through the years are now a part of who I am. The fish we caught on those trips; the spring crappie, the late summer white bass jumps on the river, the yellow bass runs….catfish, trout…my first and only chain pickerel, first small mouth, first yellow perch. The water dog that led to me being called a liar when I told everyone I caught a catfish with feet…before we had cell phones to record every moment…before I could google what it was at all.

My first 6lb bass, in Yellow Creek….my second over six…my third…more and more…my first over 7lbs, in Guices Creek…over 8 lbs at Blue Creek….the countless numbers as I pulled top water baits over miles and miles of water.

The 40 plus fish days in the early fall, the zero fish days during summer’s hottest days; the best two days I ever had…one in Wells Creek where everything was over 5lbs….the second at Hickman Creek where every cast led to a fish.

You were there.

Last year as I fished my first KBF Open, you left me with confidence that allowed me to pedal to an 11th place finish on Kentucky Lake.

All year long I took you with me to every tournament, marching toward angler of the year in CAKFG.

But I knew it was coming. I no longer felt the strength…the power of your youth. I could sense that the time was coming. At Chicamauga, I watched a strong limit of bass swim away when you lost the battle to control them. At Toledo Bend, I lost two of the best fish I ever hooked; and I knew.

I knew.

What else can I say to you old friend? I am sorry that I will leave you at home on my next trip. It will make me sad to cut the tape that holds the latest reel in the broken seat; pull the line through the mis-matched eyes, across the tape that holds them on for the last time.

So…to my Berkley Hot Rod thank you, I will miss you my friend. One day someone will find you among my things and have no idea what you once were; all your markings long gone…

…I just hope they feel what you meant to me.

Not the only way….

I wish I had time to make a video for the CAKBFG guys today since many have told me they have no idea how to catch crappie and bluegill with artificial bait. I have done it so long…guess I just assumed everyone had an idea how to do it.

All I can do is describe the set up I use, and how I found them in the Arctic Tennessee cold yesterday during the Ron Champion RACK’d tournament.. This is not the only way to catch ’em, but it is as far from bass fishing as I am willing to go.

My favorite rod/reel combo is the Shimano Sienna reel spooled with 4lb test mounted on a Berkeley Cherrywood ultra light spinning rod. I use 4lb because now and then a 4lb (or larger) bass…catfish, carp, gar….decides it wants a tiny snack. I have used a medium heavy rod with 8lb test, it is just harder to toss a small tube jig to a target.

For the lures, you just never know. Keep a box full of colors, shapes and sizes; jig heads, tubes, grubs, etc. If a color doesn’t work, change it; the same with shape.

Yesterday, the air temp ranged from a freezing 26 degrees to never felt warm; the water temp ranged from 38 to a blistering 40.3. They only bit on the smallest 1/16th jig head with a Bass Pro Squirming Squirt chartreuse/red/black tip tube. I fished it close to cover; stake beds, bridge pilings, or tree tops from the Hobie for 8 hours; landing maybe 15 crappie and 10 bluegill and a bass.

……Side notes….

1. Usually I look for 48 to 55 degree water to slay shallow crappie

2. The bag in the pic…I found in my life jacket after I got home. I fished the the beat up one at the bottom of the pic all day, thought I only had imitators with me – sorry to two guys with me for not sharing; I didn’t know I had them on me ….dang it. Have to make a trip to refill…

…where was I….

I used a “swim jig” technique for many of the bites; letting it slowly fall while twitching the rod tip…sometimes a small “yo-yo” action. When they tapped, just gently lifting the rod tip to set the hook.

For most of the day, a small float to allowed the bait to stay in the area longer since they were not overly aggressive. Fishing in only 5 to 6 feet of water, I set the tube to suspend 3 feet below the hook. When moving shallower (targeting the bluegill I was finding in 4 foot), I moved the hook up to keep it a foot off the bottom.

Basically, fish the same places you target for bass with tiny baits. It is that easy…said knowing it is never that easy.

This is not the only way to catch em. And most likely, far from the best way! But as a guy who would rather bass fish, it is the only way I am willing to chase crappie and bluegill.

Hypothesis…it ain’t me…I can fish…??

Yesterday, my need to prove something helped me to a 13th place finish. That story……..

I have fished most of my life, starting on our family’s drive to Alaska back in the late 60’s up until this morning (so far). Not really competitively, but just to fish….there had been two tournaments in a boat over 30 years ago, but those too were just to have fun.

Last year, I signed up to fish my first kayak tournament with CAKFG. It was an afternoon tournament, the water was high and muddy; I went to Elk Harbor in Cross Creeks. My experience up until that point – maybe once or twice bass fishing at Elk Harbor. All of the waters I knew like the back of my hand in bounds…and I went to Elk Harbor.

My length for that first tournament; 0 inches. I only caught one 10 inch fish. The top five all fished water I knew.

This year, I fished a KBF tournament on Barkley (most of the water I know in bounds); and Cross Creeks was included. The water was high and muddy, I had (for fun) fished Elk Harbor and caught two 17’s and a 21.5 the week before…..all of Barkley in bounds….I went to Elk Harbor and dashed to a 28th place finish with an impressive 2 fish that totaled 30.5 inches (sucked)!

Back to yesterday; I convinced myself that I would not win the tournament because I had not found big fish; and most of the guys I knew would be fishing all of the other spots that we all know about…so I went to Elk Harbor to prove I could beat it. The tournament had all of Cross Creek open, including water I knew how to fish….but I had caught a 17 one morning before work….at Elk Harbor….

I don’t think it was intentional that I set out to “beat” Elk Harbor. But as the day progressed, I said I was not going to let it win! I fished top water until I had a limit, then I tossed a senko into the shadows on a miserably hot day for hours, then flipped a jig.

I never fish a jig, one of the guys who knows that caught me flipping a jig. He had almost the same game plan, but chose the deeper of the two creeks that feed Elk and placed above me. He also moved early to another spot to cap off his limit.

44.25 inches. 44.25 more than 0 and 13.75 more than the 30.5! I did catch close to thirty fish with techniques new to me, so to be honest, it was not a waste. I did learn, but by not following my gut and moving early along with Marshall; by being too stubborn and trying to beat Elk Harbor….well, 13th and close to thirty 12-13 inch fish was the prize.

Which bring me to the hypothesis that it is not me holding my mouth wrong, but location that has been leaving me a high ranking member of the 11-13 inch fish club; it ain’t just me! Marshall did catch a nice fish on the other end of the lake….so I was not certain I couldn’t fish….almost certain…but not positive it wasn’t me.

So this morning, to test my hypothesis, I went to a location in the Cross Creeks reserve where several people placed above me. I wanted to understand the differences in my choice and theirs from a slightly scientific perspective. Not an official six sigma study, or a large sample size that would be required for it to be accurate (although the engineer side of me wanted to do so); but a quick check.

I chose the same bait, the same technique and same fisher guy I used on Saturday to test my hypothesis. I went late in the morning and fished for two hours – late because we had gone to see Styx and REO Speedwagon last night – so I never even pulled out a top water lure as I hoped to prove that it was not just that I can’t fish!

 

 

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Bait = weightless, watermelon Yamamoto Senko and a brown/watermelon jig

Technique = skipping it up to shade and any wood or brush for the Senko; flipping the jig tight to cover

Fisher Guy = bruised ego me

Comparisons:

Outdoor temp

Elk Harbor = can’t breathe, stinky sweat, who scheduled this tournament HOT!!!

Other Place I went = still the same! Misery for those who venture out!

Water Temp.

Elk Harbor = approx. 90-95 degrees

Other Place I went = approx. 86-88 degrees (hmmmmmm)

Clarity.

Elk Harbor = clear

Other Place I went = Lake Barkley Summer stain…you know the color

Results after two hours…………

I would not have won with those two hours, but the fish I caught would have put me in the top ten. The quality of fish was different, the bite was more aggressive. 15-16 inch, not 11-13.

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My hypothesis was accurate – it is not that I cannot catch fish (it ain’t me!)….but that I cannot choose the right spot (wait, now it is back to me?!?)!

I will stop with excuses too. I have been trying new things, new places; trying to grow and that has me forgetting at times to go back to what I know. And in the back of my mind, I had something to prove to myself with Elk Harbor.

I did catch a lot of fish, I catch a lot of fish every time I go out now; even in Alabama where the bite proved to be tough, I was finding the bite. So 13th is not bad…..and although I did not beat Elk Harbor and get the win….I did get in some punches and improved personally with the new techniques.

And to those who placed above me…….I am figuring this stuff out…so I will win again…..just sayin….

….maybe Old Hickory next….put up a big ole goose egg on my one adventure there. Even put on a rooster tail trying for a blue gill and couldn’t get a bite……yeah….Old Hickory…….

 

who gives a duck……

IMG_6568

I have been asked several times about the duck mounted on the Engel cooler I carry on back of my Hobie. So……….

2011 I married my Joy.

My Joy’s favorite holiday is Christmas.   Every year there is a stocking taller than Dishrag full of everything from silly putty to a new camera lens; from magic cards, jacks or x-ray glasses to an Ipad. It feels totally random to me, but each gift has meaning to her…has her in them.

One of those things was a duck float. It was a rubber duck that had a poker chip on the bottom and a ring for fishing line. The rubber duck in the picture. It was a really bad design for a float, so I decided it would never be used for that purpose.

I removed the chip, placed it on the front of my Jackson Tuna and fished my first tournament of this year. At that tournament, I saw a Hobie PA12 on sale, told her how cool it was…and she bought it; not because I asked, but that is who she is for me. Tell you the chuck Norris birthday story one day…..

My third tournament of the year was the KBF Open. That duck rode with me every day of the pre-fishing and on my journey to an 11th place finish. A tournament that she encouraged me to attend, a tournament that she encouraged me to do as well as I did.

Since then, the duck has ridden on the back (except for one day it fell off and was lost for an hour – but found….I won!) for every tournament, for every trip I have made in the kayak. From Kentucky Lake to Wheeler Lake; from Chickamauga to Center Hill; from first place to 28th; everywhere the kayak and I go.

It sits on the top of that Engel cooler I use for a tackle box – to keep my Joy close to me. To remind me that I have love in my life. I turn and see it when the fish are slow, and I smile knowing that I am blessed to have her in my life. That silly little duck is there when I lose a big fish, when I take a deep breath and hear her (not literally) reminding me that “it will be ok, you will catch another one”.

“Go get a game changa!”

Maybe you could say that duck is in some ways a security blanket…maybe you might say I have issues….maybe some think I just have a duck thing they wouldn’t understand….maybe it is what the duck?

But the reality is I have a wife who supports my desire to fish competitively, who loves me, who is there when I feel down. A woman who doesn’t always get me, but who knows the only place I am calm; the only place my mind is still, is on the water.

And that duck……is me making sure that I have a little bit of her with me on every trip; me keeping her as close as I can. It is a reminder that I am not alone in my journey….not for one second.