5 YEARS…5K…5000 MILES…

I had just logged over 5000 miles in May attending KBF tournaments in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida (not to mention fishing before or after work) when questions were asked of me.

“What do you get out of it?”

I knew what KBF means to me, what kayak fishing had given me…the joy of the CAKFG tournaments, all of the Tennessee club tournaments, the Hobie Opens; even the weekends with friends.

I was certain how much being in my Hobie Pro Angler sets me free, allows me to clear my head.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the feel of a fish on the other end of a good hookset only leaves me wanting more, and more.

But how do I explain that to someone who doesn’t feel the need to compete, or has never known those feelings? When you can hear the “your fishing in a plastic boat” tone in the questions…when you know they do not believe a kayak tournament trail is real; how do you say anything that matters?

So I started with the one thing everyone who talks about it seems to get:

“I have won about $8000 dollars this year.”

The inevitable response – “In a kayak?!!”

While the money is not the motivational factor for me, it is a bonus; and it usually turns the conversation away from the real reasons I started down this road, and into something they can relate to much easier. But not in this case.

After explaining a bit more…

“Why does it matter where you are in the KBF standings? What do you get for it?”

This is where the answer became (always becomes) more personal. Not going to quote my response, but here is what I get for it. Here is why I do it and what it means to me.

In my twenties (all of my twenties) I would watch Hank Parker and Bill Dance, the In Fisherman or the Bassmasters; anything to do with fishing and think, “how cool that would be to do for a living”. I would fish as often as possible, but instead of chasing that dream, I was too busy putting (mostly) illegal substances in my body or drinking the weekends away. I am not ashamed to talk about that; I have to in order to remind myself “that is not who I am, but it was what I did”. I do so knowing that deep inside of me, that potential to waste my life exists and I choose to never be that guy again.

Married, turned 30, had a daughter, went to college, divorced…travel softball with my bug……fished when time allowed; still watching Hank and Bill, still watching Al Linder…Roland Martin, Jimmy Houston…the Bassmasters.

Woke up in my (very) late forties, found myself working, married to my Joy; our kids out of the house. We bought a Bass Tracker to fish a bit; well, me fish, her to read or knit. During those first couple of years together, I found myself longing to be fishing when I was at work. We would get out as often as time allowed, enjoying the water…but there was still something missing.

In 2013, quadruple bypass. I was fortunate to have not died, to have not had a fatal heart attack. My Joy forced the docs to look farther than they wanted, and they found I had major blockage. I learned that life is waaaaaayyyy too short to waste what I had left, and how awesome the woman I love is for me!

We signed up to do a 5K because I was curious what it would be like, so 6 months after having my chest cracked open, I ran in a 5k….I say “ran in” cause we ran off the start, and across the finish – walked in between….then did another a few months later.

Bought a camper, bought a Jackson Big Tuna to carry with that camper……..fished a local tourney…skunked it…….fished a couple more (that is what was missing!!)…bought the Hobie…found KBF…another Hobie…(thinking about a PA14 now)……blah, blah, blah……..some of you know the story, if not just ask. I love to talk fishin’ and Hobies.

Anyway….last year I found myself moving up in the KBF standings. I fished the Hobie open and finished in the top 25, won AOY in the CAKFG….and all of the sudden I was fishing against the best kayak anglers in the country – and was competitive.

I was being asked how I fished, where I fished. I would get stopped at ramps or stores and asked about my kayak, what KBF was about; I talked about merits of the Hobie, convinced a lot of my friends that they should look up Caney Fork and try out the PA’s, the Outbacks…this year the Compass.

I was answering questions about tackle, lures…being asked my opinion about weather, gear….I was taking new guys out and showing them how to measure fish, how to use the hawg trough (yes, even identifiers in spite of what I did in this year’s Hobie Open, I know how dang it!), how to hold the fish, the camera…took a couple guys crappie fishing and helped them catch their first crappie! I was living the dream….I was no longer just dreaming about doing – I was (am) doing!!!

The feeling of fishing against over 700 anglers and finishing in the number 7 spot…..man oh man. It took me hours of dedication learning new techniques; applying all of those lessons from Hank, Bill, Al, Roland and Jimmy…the BASS guys…all the new guys to accomplish that feat.

I plan to ride it out and see how far being a part of the KBF family can take me while fishing the Hobie tourneys, the local club’s tourneys, Ron Champion’s tourney….plan to fish for redfish (blue fish, one fish two fish….), trout, catfish….any fish.

Say what you will about the organization, you will not sway me.  KBF is a vehicle that allows me to do the thing that I love while competing against the best kayak bass anglers; as far as I am willing to travel. The trails, the challenges, the opens and the championship give me a format to grow, to learn, to challenge myself.

And that after the long winded path, here is why I drove 5000 miles last month, what chasing the tournaments is for….what I get out of it all…

….to challenge myself!

So it ain’t for the money, it ain’t for the show…I may never be the top professional angler, but I will push myself to be as competitive as my abused old body will tolerate…I will live as much as I can in the time left for me and smile on all the late night drives home.

I am proud to be a kayak angler traveling with my Joy; to wherever the best are schooled up to take ‘em on.

So…see ya on the water……

Oh, and stay tuned for “how NOT to NOT secure your identifier in the Hobie Open”.

Alberto couldn’t stop 114 inches!

For the first trip in a while, nothing fell off the truck or the boat; no tires blew out…and no animals ran into me! I made the trip to the Stick Marsh in Florida, stayed in the basement of a house in Melbourne Beach without incident.

Well, there was the tropical depression Alberto….

It only took 15 hours to make the 11.5 hour trip after sitting in Atlanta for 2 of those hours, then all of the cars braking before turning on their flashers with each drop of rain through Georgia; and there was a lot of rain.

I woke up late the only morning I had available to pre-fish (when you set the clock, check am vs. pm), but still made it to the water in time to fish an hour for the one night stand. It didn’t take me long to find a pattern that worked in the canal, the same pattern I had used in LaCrosse the week before; a weightless black w/blue flake Yamamoto Senko tossed toward the shore. I was letting the (swift from water and wind) current pull me along the short side of the marsh while flipping the Senko into weeds and grass, and caught 5 decent bass in that hour. I wanted to try other lures, but for that hour, I used the lure to learn where the fish positioned themselves.

I had never really fished this type of water, so I was happy to find them so quick. During the rest of the morning I came back to this side of the Stick Marsh to learn more about how they related to the grass, the floating vegetation…surprisingly, not to the wood…and to the current. I felt confident that I could be fairly competitive with this technique, but I wanted to see what else was working.

I talked with a couple of local guys, they were throwing top water with little to no success. A couple more were throwing small weightless worms (maybe I had gotten it right) into the weeds and grass, but I never saw them catch anything.

Spinner baits, frogs, crankbaits…chatter baits…nothing. Smaller worms, other color Senko’s, jigs….nothing. Creature, swimbaits….nothing….back to the black Senko; fish, fish….hmmmm. Close to 90 inches; not great considering what I expected in Florida, but competitive.

I quit early that day to spend time with my Joy. She gives up so much of our time for me, knitting across the southeast as I fish waaaaayyyyy too many days; and encourages me each day to push myself. As much as I wanted to cover more water, to try other waters I thought…90 inches…and she is at the beach alone…and we didn’t get any groceries, just snacks….and she is always sacrificing herself for me….

An hour later, we were at the New England Eatery and Pub (if you get a chance, go) having Lobster Rolls, Ahi Tuna sandwiches, shrimp dip, key lime pie…and laughing with our waitress, with each other.

Then off to the beach, picking up shells; kicking in the sand and water as Alberto came closer and closer. It was a great day! I am certain I don’t tell her enough how much I appreciate her….but I do.

Tournament day:

Woke up early (clock was on am, but woke long before it).

Went outside – pouring rain – winds; kicking!

Drove to the Stick Marsh boat ramp, unloaded the Hobie in the rain; spoke to the guy next to me. We agreed that we were both old enough to know better than to be out in this weather, but we launched anyway.

Pedaled to the area where I had the most luck, waited till time (steady pedaling); flipped the Senko, twitched the rod once and hooked a 15+ inch bass. Made a few more flips, slightly twitching the rod; fish.

I did mention Alberto?

Well, the wind picked up and I was in an unprotected area. So my Hobie suffered the full force of every gust, forcing me to constantly pedal to keep from being swept to the back of the marsh. And I pedaled for the rest of the day, only stopping when the wind became so strong that it pushed me into the grass and bushes; pinning me there. On one of those occasions, I looked to my left – five feet away – to find a pair of eyes watching me. Just watching me, not moving like the other 5 or 6 alligators had done.

Even crossed paths with one eating a bird!

I am sore from being in my kayak for the first time ever – fighting the wind was crazy.  but had I not been in the Hobie PA, I may not have made it back to the ramp.  Some of the guys paddling all day looked abused!

Reality:

The results will show that I didn’t equal my 90 inches from the day before.

I finished 20th, the larger fish didn’t bite for me…a weightless Senko in 20mph winds is not effective.

I had tried more weighted baits without success early, so in an effort to combat the wind, I put the Senko on a ned rig setup. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but then once upon a time, no one had ever tied a chunk of wood to their line and “walked” a spook across the water (for the record – nothing hit the spook either). Not that my ned rigged senko equals the Zara Spook…but I did catch fish all day; just not large enough to match the 114 inches that won!!!!

114 inches!!! IMPRESSIVE!!!

My Joy kept trying to tell me I didn’t suck (which I kept saying I did – 20th…dang it). She kept telling me “the weather was awful, rain and high winds”…”you have never fished this type of water”, true…”you found fish”, ok – small ones…”you did better than most”, but sucked (my words).

It just wasn’t my day.

But 114 inches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

INSANE!

Later I enjoyed conversation at the Marsh Landing restaurant with Tim Beers, Matthew Kasparek and Brad Case; learned more about Florida bass, techniques and the area. Enjoyed some shrimp and grits, ribs and an awesome peanut butter pie (try it if you get there).

Note to self – have those conversations ahead of tournaments!

It wasn’t my day, but it could have been worse. Nothing broke or went flat, and I had an amazing time with my biggest fan.

The ride home:

We stopped at the White Sands Buddhist Center. On the path to the center, we passed a sign:

Every Step of the Journey is the Journey.

Will never get into religion unless pressed, I believe in tolerance for all beliefs, races, creeds….tolerance…but at a point in my life, a dark place I had to push hard to remove myself from, I found peace in the simple truths of Buddhism and still do.

So I did find solace that by being 20th…not really the placing, but by learning something new…I had grown, I had moved forward…I had taken steps in my journey. And for today….that is good enough.

Mousquitos, Senkos and Deer; oh my!

LaCrosse Wisconsin; ten and a half hours from Tennessee…sounds like a nice drive (up, never home). Fish infested waters everywhere you look, great weather expected; ice finally gone…ok. KBF open coming up in a few months; never been…so a chance to learn before then…sweet.

All of these were reasons to load up BoHobien Rhapsody on my (super tough) Tennessee Trailer Little Frog and head north; or what I told myself as I booked a campsite at Goose Island with visions of largemouth bass crushing topwater!

Somewhere less than halfway through the ride the reality of what 10.5 hours does to your butt, your back…your mental stability…sets in. The sun drops, it gets dark, the radio cannot pick up anything worth listening too….the voices start talking, questioning why this was a good idea…

…finally at 1ish in the morning of the next day, I backed into my campsite and dropped the seat back for a nap. I decided to put up the tent later….

…5ish, put up the tent under constant attack by what I assumed was hummingbirds – later I learned they were Wisconsin mosquitos (slight exaggeration, but they were tough).

…5:30 ish, dropped the kayak into what I thought should be dead backwaters only to find that the water was flowing faster than any creek does within 30 miles of my house. The visions of topwater frogs on tranquil waters was beginning to waver.

…6:30 ish – WHOOSH!!!! – something absolutely crushed my Rapala Skitterpop just on the tip of a laydown…it rolled and I had hooked a solid three plus foot Northern! One roll later, I had lost my first Wisconsin Northern. Nice! To be honest, I had to share a pic with some locals to know what I had hooked. It was fun.

…8ish, after covering water in my Hobie searching (fighting the constant current) I finally hooked my first Wisconsin largemouth with a 412 Bait Co. free minnow.

Then my second, my third, fourth…then another Northern, and another after switching to spinner baits.

…by 11, I was sitting at a Perkins Restaurant (recommend it!), eating something my cardiologist would not recommend or approve, scouring over maps. I found a place where it looked like the water was right for my fishing, and would allow me to get a bit out of the steady current.

…noon…put in at the new location, the current smashed me into the dock and broke of the paddle holder I use to keep my paddle handy. It seems that current was just going to be way of life. I pedaled around for a bit; it was getting warm outside. I saw a narrow channel with some shade and pulled in to just get out of the sun.

I tied a weightless black Yamamoto Senko with blue flakes on my favorite St. Croix rod and flipped it against the rocks….THUMP….a 13 inch small mouth.

…10 minutes later, I was pulling in my third smallmouth; no size, but decent fish. I moved to a few other locations to test the area…more smallmouth…I was just tossing the weightless senko into the current against the rocks, and shaking the rod tip back toward the boat. The retrieve speed was fairly swift, if I slowed down, it did not seem to produce. I am not a smallmouth guy, but if they are biting….

…loaded up by 1 and drove to other potential locations.

So, I am going back to the campsite after the captain’s meeting thinking that I had not found the quality fish I needed. But the black with blue flake Yamamoto Senko had produced just about everywhere it touched the water; at least I would not repeat the day I had in South Carolina (I hoped!).

I lay down in my tent, and will tell you that I am certain that those mosquitos picked it up and turned it around in an attempt to get inside! They backed up and slammed it again and again…ok, it was the wind…but the mosquitos are no joke there…and I had very little sleep…and it is my story…

Anyway. Tourney day….

The fish were where I had left them, and they were a bit larger. Not enough to win, but I had in a few hours developed a pattern that held strong to the end of the next day; tossing that senko onto the edge of the shore into the current, and shaking the rod tip back toward the Hobie put over twenty fish in the boat and allowed me to finish in 7th on waters I had never seen. I will take that after my finish at Santee Cooper – where I had almost decided to fish tourneys nevermore! Still pouting about that one….

Jump ahead to about 5 hours into my trip home.

…stopped into a rest area because my old butt was needing a nap.

…1.5 hours later pull out and drive a bit..

…WHAM!!!!!!…I look into the mirror to see my trailer flying into the air at 70 miles an hour.

….the driver’s side tire starts screaming when it finally lands, and I see a deer running into the path of a Wal-Mart truck.

….I scream (me and the trailer) to a stop and look back on the interstate to see the first deer in my lane. I never saw it coming.

….about 2 hours later, I have finally pried the fender off the wheel with a ratchet strap and a tire tool, explained to the truck driver that nothing had flown off my trailer and hit him – he had clipped the second deer – and started home.

….finally 14 hours after pulling out of Onalaska and the Omni center, I pulled into my driveway with BoHobien Rhapsody intact (that Tennessee Trailer is freaking tough) and washed the deer off of everything before getting my body into bed.

LaCrosse Wisconsin; ten and a half hours from Tennessee…sounds like a nice drive (up, never home!!!!).

Fish infested waters everywhere you look, great weather expected; ice finally gone…ok…but the current is CRAZY!

KBF open coming up in a few months; now I have been…so a chance to fish there again…sweet…should I make the drive….hell yeah…hope I can get my trailer fixed by then…

Side note:

The folks at the Tennessee Trailer Company are awesome. They are already trying to fit me in to get the repairs done with only a single request – that I power wash Bambi off (check).  To be honest, I was extremely impressed with how sturdy the trailer is, how well made – then to make one call and have the response from them that I have received….now I know why Caney Fork is offering the trailers at their stores.

To be very open, I am a brand loyal kind of guy; but it takes a lot to get me on your side. Tennessee Trailers…Sandra and Billy…I am a fan.

If you are looking for a trailer, make the investment in a good one; give Ryan and Logan a call at Caney Fork Outdoors and let them help you get on the road with one from Tennessee!

Even Jordan missed some shots….

WELL…….

To say I am satisfied with my place in the KBF Santee Cooper Open would be false; I will never feel ok with 69th place…and this was my worst performance since discovering KBF. Last week I placed 5th on Kentucky Lake….69 was a major let down.

I kept telling myself that even Babe Ruth struck out…not that my level of angling equals his level of baseball…

….by the end of day one, I was so far in my head that I found memories from the womb!

To be honest, I am shocked to have placed that high. For two days of fishing, I came away with two fish; both on the second day. I called Joy after catching the first to tell her that I was officially in some place…..not another “0” at the bottom…..

Re-cap

Day one – leaving Clarksville…(with Dishrag on board!)

Just before the interstate, a metal trash can flew off the back of a truck and under the left tire of our R-Pod camper. Everything looked ok, so on to South Carolina. Come back to that tire in a bit.

Day one (pre-fishing)…

The locals told me the water was up a bit on Lake Marion, and the water was getting muddy. Pulled into a field of lily pads just outside of Santee State Park with a white Stanley Jigs Ribbit Top Toad tied on at day light. Pulled away with 90+ inches in thirty minutes just random wide casting, trying not to pick it apart.

As I left, I counted four alligators. One which seemed to be at least 12 ft – posted some video of that beast. Before Toledo Bend, this would have kept me away, but 90 + inches….I was coming back.

Loaded up Dishrag and Joy by ten; headed to Isle of Palms just outside of Charleston to give them a little beach time. My wife has given so much of her time to support me chasing the tournaments I had to give her some time at the beach…she loves the sun and sand…and dishrag is such a blessing, and loves to be with his Bomma and Boppa at the ocean.

Stopped on the way back looking for a Z-man chatter bait, I had nailed a 19.75 on a dock while pedaling out of the pads – then lost the bait in 8ft of water…I had landed a 17 the evening before (my first chatter bait fish) with it….they did not have the color I had lost; brown/black/with orange and white highlights.

Day two and three (pre-fishing)…

The water was getting muddier on the upper end, I hit several spots; each produced at least 1 fish.   To that point I had caught nothing smaller than 17 inches. And the fish at Santee Cooper; they love to fight! I don’t think I have ever caught fish that refused to give up like these….fun to say the least.

Those fish were caught on a Z-man dark green/brown chatter bait, a Yamamoto black w/blue flake senko, and an Academy square bill bream pattern crankbait. I had my fish lined up, so I was experimenting and learning the lake….

The current had picked up a lot, the color was changing with each passing minute…and the level appeared to be dropping a bit.

During the last day of prep, I helped some folks right a canoe and get it back to shore. They had no idea about being on the water, but they were smart enough to wear their life jackets! I was thankful they were ok, and the canoe rental guy was thankful I was there to help.

Day one (tournament)…

I always wake up early, always get to the ramp early; there is a real possibility that I will be early to my death and subsequent funeral/cremation. Anyway……..early, no one there. PERFECT!!!

Pedaled down to the pads, alone; early. Waited till 6 a.m., then made my first cast with the Stanley frog. Then my second, third….fortieth. Then my first blowup came, set the hook, and landed a 3 ft chain pickerel. My heart dropped.

About an hour in – there was a tiny channel in the field that led to a deeper hole – a boat came roaring past me, and through the pads to the back. Ok, not roaring, he did stop to talk; but he did cut through the center of the pads.

Cast fifty, sixty….bunches more. Then a worm, a brush hog….my boat was filling with lures and crushed hopes. 90+….dang it! Senko….lizard…

More casts, and more……and more…

I fished the pads, I beat the pads, I kicked and choked the freaking pads…I cussed the pads…and caught not a single bass. I did manage to pull a yellow perch out on a senko, shoulda just thrown him in the bottom of the boat for dinner and switched to shell crackers then! The guy in the back was wearing them out.

Moved to the docks…the cypress….

….my buddy Kirt Pequinot made a statement about the cypress where he had fished the first day; too many trees, you are not sure what to do! That was where I was. This was my first venture into the cypress world, and I was overwhelmed. He nailed it. Everything looked like it should have a 20 plus hawg laying in its shadows, so what to do…what to do!

I had caught fish on the isolated clumps pre-fishing other places….but nothing in the area where I was felt isolated! Nothing but me!

I felt like I was sitting in a class on differential equations, having never taken basic math, and handed a pop quiz on day one! I failed….day one total = 0.

But I can promise you, I will be studying. I will not fail in that environment again!

Day two (tournament)…

When you lay a golden goose egg, and the only smell at your campsite is skunk….what to do? I moved to Lake Moultrie, just to learn more about the Santee Cooper system.

I was fishing for experience, and ego. I would not let a lake (in an evil villain Dishrag voice) CRUSH ME (followed by Boppa from him – I will CRUSH YOU BOPPA…love that little guy).

At the ramp, a fellow angler was unloading his boat. We talked, and he said he was in 8th after day one. I told him I would give him all the space he needed – I was just trying to learn new water, asked which way he was headed…he said right, so I went left. I saw him later, but never went close. It felt like that is what a guy holding down a tie for last place should do; I would need 5 uber, world record, non-existent fish to even hope to place.

So about left…stump field. I love the Hobie, it is an extremely stable and solid boat. But running wide open, and crossing a stump barely below the water on your left…in any kayak…I thought I was goin’ over! I caught myself, leaned hard left, and rode it out. Had come close once before, at Toledo Bend.

Five more minutes, I found myself stuck on another. On top of the stump, watching the alligators, thinking this is perfect! Finally standing at the right angle, pushing with my paddle (why I carry a full size Bending Branches Pro Angler Carbon, not a partial paddle), I was able to get off the stump.

The next part of this adventure…now, I am going to ask you to Google “alligator roar” if you have never heard one! I had not, I kept thinking I would round the turn and see a boat that couldn’t crank. It was not, it was an alligator laying along the bank…now I know why (learning a lot about them lately). And somewhere deep in the bushes – an echo of another.   Telling you, in the first light of day, a spooky sound. Don’t have lizards that big here in Tennessee. Anyway…

Fished a bit, realized why my fellow angler had turned right, and decided to move on out toward deeper water.

Stump number three.

After that collision, I struggled to turn the Hobie right. I had bent one fin straight back about 10 degrees, and another about thirty degrees off center.

Side Note : The Hobie is a great piece of equipment…and the mirage drive – wow, so I was still able to fish all day long in spite of me!

Fished a few hours….I finally hooked an eighteen inch bass…got it almost to the boat….my line broke. This was the point I almost loaded up and called it.

I was fishing a baby bass colored Yamamoto Senko so slow that I was dying with each cast….so not my strength…and had lost the first real bite from a bass in two days!

But, I was determined to not be last place. I was going to catch a fish, dang it….

Spare you the hours…but I finally landed two. A 15.25 and a 15.5….I was officially on the board!!!

……………

Even Hank Aaron struck out….and others still didn’t find two fish….doesn’t help typing it either, no more than saying it to myself on Saturday…

……………

The ride home…….on top of the rest………

That left tire, the one where I hit the trash can………..blew out, ripped the fender off the camper….along with the lights connected to it. Fortunately, we were close to and exit and made it there (to discover that my tire tool was still in my garage where I had helped our daughter fix her brakes)…PERFECT!

And that was my Santee Cooper Open adventure…….

….on to the next one – most likely LaCrosse……after the Caney Fork Waterpalooza next weekend ….

….y’all come on out…

ooooooh that smell….

I wanted to write about last weekend, and am finally dry enough to feel comfortable with my hands on the keyboard. It was the most miserable day. My rain suit failed about three hours into the constant rain….everything was soaked….and now my Nissan smells like wet socks, wet shirts, wet everything…wet skunk…because I was skunked…and that is a smell I do not want to get used to having around.

Oh well….

On the way to last weekend’s tournament, stop #3 for CAKFG, I made a few observations.

Rain fell, lightly, carried by the east wind.

“Wind from the east, catch the least.” That is what has always been told.

Passing a field, all of the cows were lying down.

“The fishing is going to be tough if the cows are laying on the ground.” Heard that too.

I spent the last hour on Google, trying to prove (or dispel) the myths; actually just trying to understand why I only caught small fish. My human arrogance refuses to believe that I just wasn’t good enough on that water, on that day. The cows must have dropped to the ground and allowed the east wind to pass over the hills and hollers; intentionally.

All of the research (granted an hour does not constitute true research) led me to one conclusion; there are so many opinions on the subject! Studies say this or that, meteorologists say this or that, old folks argue this or that….but something most had in common; the weather was changing.

Ok. The most common results of my totally biased study…condensed…

  1. The east wind usually occurs with a cold front, and is accompanied by a barometric pressure shift. Low pressure, cold front…..
  2. The cows usually lay down when it is colder to lessen the amount of their body exposed. They curl their legs up and reduce the surface area affected by the wind.

And there you have it. The conditions were not optimal for fishing. It wasn’t me.

Those cows!

…but a few guys did catch some nice fish….and that is where my theory that it was the cows fault will never become scientific law.

What I did learn as water pooled in very uncomfortable spots, watching 24 inches place in the money, was the difference in my technique and what others did….

  • I fished for a reaction strike too long.

Those who caught larger fish caught them early fishing slow and tight to cover.

They found the fish were like the cows, not really roaming around a lot.

  • I eventually slowed down and fished smaller baits, but chose the wrong cover.

Those who caught more fish were hitting wood or bushes along the creek channels

Not on rip rap, or larger rocks with no wood structure.

 

Lesson learned and filed away.

As I drive to work tomorrow, smelling the weekend all over everything, I will look out across the fields and know that the cows sometimes lay down for the same reason we do…they get tired. But the environment does impact their decision to take a break from standing at times.

I will also start watching the weather before next weekend on Kentucky Lake, paying more attention to wind direction and changes in barometric pressure.

And the week after, on the trip to the Open at Santee Cooper, I will look for both….and adjust accordingly….and search all of the other data I have filed away…..and hope I pull out the right combination of rod, reel, lure, hold my mouth in the correct position…wallet in the right pocket (or left)….lucky underwear…

….this fishing stuff has a lot to keep up with……..and sometimes, you just don’t figure it out soon enough….

…….but man, ain’t it fun.

No woulda, coulda, shoulda…nope..

Woke up, left Clarksville…12:30 ish in the morning, drove to Guntersville for a KBF event. I pulled into an empty parking lot about 4 am and started to question my choice.

I had fished the same spot my only other time at Guntersville; recording a mediocre limit, but still expected to see others there.

Why was the lot empty?

I had caught a limit in less than 40 minutes on a point of chunk rock during my trip a year ago; and it looked like a spot that would be on fire in spring…no way there was not a solid limit in all the rock and wood that lined the shore.

Maybe I had just arrived early, maybe others were just late. Never once did I face the inevitable truth about the situation.

“No way”, the me, in absolute denial, said out loud.

“This looks like where I was just slaying them on Barkley and Kentucky Lake.”

At around five, two other kayakers showed up…along with a group of 10 bass boats who had organized a “friends” tournament. Whew…maybe this is ok…

On my first cast, a bass blew up on (ok, swatted) a Stanley Top Toad. On the third, the same. No hookup, but the bass were hitting.

(still in denial – they were just too small)

Thinking they were hesitant, I threw the bait I had been killing them with at home; a Mann’s Classic spinner bait.

And threw it.

And threw it.

After a while, switching to a Rapala Skitterpop, I hooked up with a small bass. Then another kept flashing on it, but not biting.

Fluke. The thought ran through my head and was immediately followed by the image of them laying on the bench in my garage (see above – four hours away).

“maybe there is one….you know you cleaned out the bottom of the Hobie…”

Back to the spinner bait…….

“stop! cut it off so you will not throw it again!!!”

Senko.

Weightless Yamamoto Senko, fished like a fluke….??

Fish.

Another.

And another….still small, but caught a lot.

Brent Lanier and Tim Beers, the only two other guys to fish the area with me came by and we talked about our luck, about each other…about someone’s battery dying…Mardi Gras Bitter’s baits.

It seems the parking lot was not full for a reason. Don’t get me wrong, fish were there. The guys on the bank had caught so many crappie that I looked once for some jigs…kidding, I always have crappie jigs in the Hobie…I wouldn’t need to look; they are my bass lures some days…but I wasn’t sure of the size limit.

But, the bass bite was small.

My 70.25 inches was the largest in our location by a whopping .5”, but this was Guntersville and it was 23” behind the leader. Had I been allowed a seven fish limit – and culled the 9.5” beast…I coulda been a contender!

We did beat the guys in the glitter boats; there is that!

A pity party for one is not my style, no matter how much it sounds like it, so, the four hour drive home was filled with building a new plan. Not a woulda, coulda, shoulda diatribe on how much better the day may have been; but reflections on the locations those in the top had chosen.

Why?

What was the difference?  Some was knowledge of the area, others had picked key things to their styles; just as myself.

Guntersville.

Grass.

The conversations around the pavilion, the majority anyway, had that in common.

My error….I had chosen Lake Barkleyesque features because of their familiarity; the one thing missing from the area I fished, Guntersville grass. There was plenty up to the water’s edge, then it stopped…and was freshly mowed. I am sure the area has its days, but the key on this day was grass and where I was; it wasn’t.

Driving back to Goose Pond in the light of day I saw a lot of (woulda, coulda, shoulda – was trying not to do it) spots….I have locked those away. I think that knowledge along with the education I received (and always listen for) while waiting for results will help next time.

——————–

Anyway…a few comments…..

…as always I love the competition and the KBF events…

…45 out of 93 (the engineer in me looks at stats) – better than 51.6% of the field – ain’t always number 1…

…made a couple new friends and talked with my KBF family, love the community feel of it all…

…saw my buddy and fellow CAKFG member Greg Phipps place in the top ten…

…saw Josh Stewart – glad he was ok after the car smashed his…

…laughed…not a Josh or Rebecca…

…ok after the post from Billy Reynolds, maybe a little about (not at) Rebecca…

..….found a way to catch fish….and learned how to catch more…

…My Hobie, the BoHobien Rhapsody, wore the Caney Fork Fishing Team colors for the first time…

…a good day.

Yep, a good day.

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….