After 12 tournaments, I was grid locked in Angler of the Year standings. I held a slim 1pt lead over Mark, a fellow MFC Member. So, I had to do some thinking. Mark had really closed the gap on me the last few tournaments. At one point I held a good lead. I looked up about a week ago and I was a single point out, and he had won or at least beat me the last 3-4 tournaments.
So, what could I do? I could go in as a boater, take the chance that the boat actually worked. hope that I caught fish. But, that left me with a plethora of ways to be beaten. As long as he placed above me, we would tie or he would win. If I struck out, which was possible, it meant that he automatically won. But, if I went in as a non-boater and drew him , I was guaranteed that we would at least tie....that being if he caught the Big Fish. If I didn't draw him, I was in no worse shape. We held a draw and pulled Guntersville, Mink Creek. Terrific. Guntersville had stoned me the last 2 trips out. Guess who I drew. Ole Mark. I literally jumped for joy. That's the most excited I have ever been over a $10 check (member fee for next year).
Of course, being the joker, he suddenly said he couldn't fish...and I retorted that I would happily fish on my own out of my boat...haha. Other members joked that I would knock his fish off if he caught the big one. But we were all just joking. After all, the Classic purse was a hefty one and it made more sense to work together.
It was in the 30s when we launched the boat. As usual, I thought I was bundled up, but I was wrong. As soon as the boat started running down the river, I realized that I was ill-prepared.
Because of the heavy fog, we fished around the highway 79 causeway in Mink. No luck. We fished the little islands inside Mink (look at my other Mink Creek reports). Again, only a few bites and one boated fish.
We decided that we would head up river. Fished inside of North Sauty with no avail. Decided to head way upriver to BB Comer, but the fog was ridiculous! we had to idle through the buoys. We spotted some blow up holes on the "miracle mile" in front of Goose pond....as well as half a dozen fishermen. I made a few casts into a hole I had seen minnows jumping with my Spro Dean Rojas edition Bronze eye frog.
Even though I was upset at missing my first hit of the day (at 9am....mind you), I did realize that Mark had managed to teach me something that should have been intuitive YEARS ago. He taught me that I should have more than 2 speeds on my froggin'. I had fast and faster. He showed me to fish the frog like a finesse plastic. For that, I commend him.
Certainly the trip upriver to Comer Bridge proved to be the most vital move of the day, but his advice is more empowering...give a man a fish...teach a man to fish...and all that.
The combination of the two (spoiler alert) was the difference in winning and loosing. We trolled back and forth on the highlighted route:
The bites were far and few in between. The fish NEVER hooked up the first hit. We had to throw back on top of them and work the bait. Sometimes 405 casts, all taking 2-3 minutes per cast. But we managed a sack, and even culled once.
The most disappointing part of the day was to see Mark bring in the winning fish. While I did catch one that was danger close to the same size, it was very apparent he had the bigger fish in our boat. It went 4.25.
We weighed in and won the classic with 14.5 pounds. Mark and I tied for the NASA MFC Angler of the Year. While it was a tie, I am still Angler of the Year. And yes. I am proud of it.
But it was Luck. All luck. Believe me. Oh, and it was a war of attrition. However, I have learned more this year because of the brilliant fishermen in our club, than I have in my entire fishing lifetime. So, while I have a little title to bestow upon myself, I have something so much greater. Comradeship with my club and the vast knowledge they have granted me.