If there is one problem in fishing in a very competitive and very good fishing club, is that being in the lead position doesn't award you the ability to slack. Quite the opposite. It is more effort to stay on top. In our club, with the current points system, you almost have to fish EVERY tournament. Otherwise, a win by the right guy could knock you out.
Saturday was looking like a lost cause. Aubree had a soccer game at 8am. Alyse had an all day work function. So, if I did fish, dad couldn't fish with me as he would be watching the kids. Not to mention that the boat continues to develop old age problems. I mulled it over with Alyse and dad. I explained how missing a tournament this late in the season would doom my Angler of the Year hopes. Even if I didn't win, the points for showing up would be enough to keep me in it.
Surprisingly, I was supported by both. We made some choices and calls. I would go as a non-boater, which would allow me to keep from getting stranded by the boat, but also allow me to get home faster to alleviate stresses on everyone.
As luck would have it, there were more non-boaters than boaters, and I drew out. Meaning, I didn't have a partner. I had told Josh I was going as a non-boater, so he had made plans with Emily, his soon to be wife (and owner of the Bullet!). So, I called Bertus. we call him Bertus because his first name is also Josh. Bertus is an accomplished fisherman, to say the least. He agreed to fish with me..although his boat was busted. So, we were back to using my boat. Maybe this hodge-podge effort would pay off. Maybe we would get stranded, sink the boat, and not catch a fish. You just never know in that boat.
Friday night, I fired it up and made sure it would run. Indeed it did. I charged the batteries, restrung reels, did all my little tricks (see an upcoming blog post) to get ready.
Picked him up Saturday, got some Hardees, and we drove to Waterfront while we talked it over. He had some luck at BB Comer. That's a long run from Waterfront. Like, 20-25 minutes. It would take the old gas hawg stratos every DROP of fuel to get there and back. But, I was willing to risk it, so I filled both tanks.
We put the boat in the water and prepared for blast off. We idled out to the buoys. The bilge pump kicked on. Not unusual, really. Every 30 minutes or so, a slow leak will trip the pumps. But the boat had been in the water a matter of minutes! And it pumped. And pumped. An pumped some more. I opened the cowl, expecting to find that the plug had fallen out, since I KNEW that I had put it in the night before. Instead, I found that the livewell pump was pumping water in the boat. The hard feed line had busted. It was confusing because the pumps weren't even on! Apparently, they don't have valves and instead, use the 3 feet of head from the livewell to keep them from flooding the boat. Well, now we didn't have that 3 feet and she was steadily filling up!
We ran back to the dock, Bertus jumped out, got the Denali and we trailered the boat. We pulled back up to Waterfront grocery. Luckily, they had spare PVC pieces and I was able to cobble together something that would stop the leak. We lost the ability to use the front livewell, but I never use it anyway.
Now we were an hour behind. And that hour was an important one, since we knew it was going to be HOT!
With a boat that could start sinking at anytime, we decided it unwise to run to BB Comer. Instead, we ran upriver to a spot that Bertus had chosen (and swore me to secrecy, although I know why now...as it is a fantastic spot). 3 casts in, we bagged a NICE fish on a C-rigged 10 inch worm. It turned out to be big fish of the day at 3.XX pounds. We had a few bites, but no real takers. The spot we were fishing was a nice hump that came out of 16 feet of water to 7 feet and had stumps on it. Big ones.
Another boat came into the area, and low and behold...stopped about 20 yards from us. Not really out of realm of possibility, as all the good spots are known by good fisherman. But then these guys trolled right on top of us! Like, 5 yards. We bit the bullet and fished anyway. The wind was howling at 20+ miles per hour! We couldn't keep the boat on the spot. Eventually they left, as did we...without another bite.
We hopped a few more spots without a bit of luck. Like, none.
After we ran through his spots, we ran to Mink Creek. We couldn't catch anything in the back of Mink, so we fished the two islands in front of Mink.
Using a 10 inch worm, T-Rigged, we were able to get on a good bite. We caught 6 fish in about an hour, but we had to skim a lot of grass lines to get them. After one full pass, we had 2 more measuring fish and several that didn't measure. That left us with 3 measuring fish. It was 11am, 2 hours until weigh in.
No problem, we thought. We will just make another run. Nothing. Not a bite.
In a last ditch effort, we ran to Preston Island. We went to the very back and started fishing an underwater hump in front of the causeway. I bagged a solid keeper on my first cast. As I reeled him, Bertus was ready with the net. A 5 pound++ fish was following the little keeper! Bertus tossed the net and went after his rods, hoping to entice the monster. But she saw us and vanished.
Without any more luck, we got on some matter grass and started throwing frogs, hoping for a blow up that would net us a kicker fish. We had a TON of lazy hits. But not a single one managed to get it in the mouth.
Disappointed, we ran back to the ramp one fish short. Now, normally I would say that if I had it rough, MOST people would too. The problem is that we don't have MOST people in our club. We have good fisherman. However, Bertus is about as good as they get. With both of us struggling, I knew everyone else would too. But, it would only take a good fish and a small limit to beat us.
As luck would have it, that wasn't the case. We lucked out and took home 1st and big fish with only 4 fish and an 8.XX pound bag. I still don't know what to think of that. One of my worst days. Winning is great, but catching fish is SO much better.