Monday, March 10, 2014

Results for Fishin' for a Mission to Benefit Eagle's Wings of Tuscaloosa

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For a little background on this wonderful event and my history with it, go check out my Save the Date post from a few months back.

What is Eagle's Wings all about? Here is their synopsis taken from their website:

"Eagles' Wings, Inc. is a non-profit organization that provides day habilitation services for adults with mild, moderate and severe intellectual and physical disabilities, including those who are medically fragile.  We strive to provide a wide array of services to meet their spiritual, physical, emotional, social and vocational needs.  Our primary objective is centered on happiness for each individual in a respectful, secure, nurturing and structured environment which maximizes potential for independence, productivity and integrationwith the surrounding community."

The day couldn't look any more gorgeous as we listened to pro angler Dalton Bobo wish us well and blast us off. 

The first spot we stopped at didn't immediately yield a fish and from Tony's demeanor, I knew that wasn't a good thing. After fishing the spot hard, he did bag a nice spot on a crank. We pulled up and ran.

On the second spot. I was throwing a lipless crank and yo-yoing it through grass and bagged a keeper fish. Next cast, the lure fell between some rocks. As I pulled on it, I heard a loud snap and everything went lip. My rod had snapped in half! 

We ran and ran all day, eventually finding a pattern of throwing a spinnerbait in the back of creeks that produced a very small limit of fish. 

At least we had a limit and about 2 hours to find a monster. But, we never did. 
It was frustrating to say the least, but I kept reminding myself that I didn't fish this tournament for me but for Eagle's Wings. I was fishing it for those less fortunate than I. When we arrived for weigh in, it was easy for me to again put a smile on my face and keep my head high. I chomped on a few hotdogs and enjoyed a Dr. Pepper while Dalton Bobo ran a weigh in for the 58 boats in attendance. As with everything, Eagle's Wings was extremely professional in the weigh in. There was a leaderboard, great scales with good visibility. What I found was the absolute BEST part of the weigh in was the support from all the locals people. Tons of peopel came out to watch the weigh in. These people love their fishing almost as much as they love supporting Eagle's Wings!

This has been an event I look forward to every single year. Y'all may recall that covering this event really put me on the map a few years ago when it was Published in the Tuscaloosa News. It is well set up, professionally run, and the prizes are terrific. Sure, it doesn't hurt that my wife's uncle is a Tuscaloosa Lake legend and we have cashed a check in every single tournament we have fished together. Not only do Uncle Tony and I do well, but his son TJ is fantastic as well. We all have done extremely well in the past. Leading up to the tournament, Tony had been prefishing. Thursday before the tournament, he had texted me this picture:
Now, that is a fantastic Tuscaloosa fish right there. Additionally, he called me Thursday night and told me to take everything I had tied on, cut it off, and replace with some different baits, notably a swim jig, which I had never. Ever. Thrown. Ever. But, when in Rome, right? So, I did just that. I rigged up some cranks in crawfish colors, and few swim jigs back by the PowerTeam Lure's Swinging Hammer.

I got on the road late Friday night, ate some Krystal's on the way (I don't know why I subject myself to such pain), got to Tuscaloosa at 10 and managed to get some sleep. We work up, hit the road and make the 1 mile drive to Binion Creek harbor. I had everything laid out and ready! 
This event is so well run and the hospitality is amazing. They have a hospitality trailer filled with wonderful women handing out doughnuts and hot coffee(a must early in the morning). Check in is a snap. Most of all, the wonderful people that we were there to support are out in full force, helping and smiling. It makes it very easy to write that check and be happy with just the smiles from these wonderful challenged adults, regardless of how many fish are caught. Of course, they all have to heckle me because of my Auburn attire. But, it's all in good fun!  Here is the view as I walked up to check us in.

And this is where the fun began. There are a handful of ways to fish Tuscaloosa Lake with it's renown spotted bass. You can try and win with numbers, cull up ounce by ounce with spots and top out at around 10 pounds at best. You can get a quick limit of spots and go hunting a largemouth and hope that you find it and hope no one caught a bigger one than you, or you can fish all day for largemouth all day. In the past, we have culled up with spots. But Tony had some largemouth so we decided to go big or go home. 

We picked up and moved again. No luck yet again, though some rustling on the hillside next to us caused me to look up and I spotted a set of feral piglets. They are the first that I have ever seen in the wild! I have video of them that I hope comes out good. 

TJ had infered that they had a good bag, so we watched them weigh in. Indeed they did, including a MONSTER 4.75 largemouth (for Tuscaloosa :-) hahaha) on their way to a 10.2 pound sack that was good enough for 3rd place. As always, I try to keep things in perspective. That is the reason I started this blog, and I couldn't help but watch Tony absolutely BEAM as his son shook hands and accepted a check for 3rd and Big Fish. Of course he made a snide comment about teaching TJ all he knew! I was extremely happy for TJ and his partner. I can honestly say that it was worth the trip down to watch him win. Certainly to see Tony so happy.
I really wanted to hang around longer, but I know my wife was ready for me to get home.

This even gets better and better every year, but the reason for the tournament will never change. We forget sometimes how fortunate most of us are to be blessed with all the physical and mental skills we need to be successful. In today's selfish world, it's all about me. But there are those out there who are NOT blessed with such things. And, there are those out there that have dedicated their lives to helping adults with disabilities. Sure, the tournament has a check at the end of it for some lucky fishermen. And, I am not saying it can't be a motivation for fishing. But, in the future, if you can, make an effort to come down and fish this great event. I will see you there!