A Balancing Act
"So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left."
-Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You'll Go
Time. It has been a very precious commodity for me over the past few weeks. Whether your passion is (like mine) tournament fishing, or some other outlet, managing a job, a family, and serious pastime is no small endeavor. I have fished seven tournaments in the last seven weeks. That in and of itself is not too big of a feat, but I simply can't make myself just show up on derby day. I've been trying to get in a day of practice prior to each event. You can do the math. That's a lot of time-on-the-water for a guy who owns a business and has a family. Here's my normal weekly schedule: 8-9 hour days at the office Monday-Thursday, Friday morning, up at 2:45AM, drive to Kentucky Lake, fish for 14 hours, sleep a few hours, fish a tournament on Saturday, drive home. I do take Sunday's off for church and family time. In fact, I am extremely protective of my Sundays.
There have been several Thursdays for the past few weeks that I have actually been dreading going fishing the next day. Did I just say that? By the time I back the Triton in at 5:30 on Friday morning, the dread is gone, but the balancing act sometimes gets out of whack. I’m not intending this blog to be a "Woe is me" soliloquy, but I know that many of my weekend warrior readers out there know exactly where I am coming from.
On to the catchin! There is no way I can succinctly summarize my last month of tournament fishing in a single post, so I just share a few stories. My summertime fishing is primarily on Kentucky Lake. I have a fair amount of history and better-than-average track record in the summer. Those who know me, know that the summer of 2009 was a once-in-a-lifetime "in the zone" period. In a 7 week period, I won five tournaments and finished third and fourth in the other two. The worst tournament day I had was 20 pounds, the best was 27.5. All of those fish were where they were because of grass, hydrilla to be exact. For the last two years, the grass has been essentially non-existent, but now it is coming back. The spring/summer drought, low water, and low current have the hydrilla in KY Lake growing like crazy. Now tournament fishermen are faced with a dilemma. Fish shallow in the grass and hope for a few big bites, or chase deep schools and try to win the numbers game. I've been playing the schooling game for the last four weeks with mixed results.
My partner Jason Sain and I fished a tournament out of Paris Landing on May 26th. I had found several schools of fish on Friday, but never caught a fish over 3.5 pounds. Jason and I weeded through probably 150 bass and 100 keepers to get to a 17.5 pound limit. We finished 6th. The next week Jason and I fished the Triton Owner's tournament out of Paris. Once again, bites were plentiful in practice, with little to no quality. On day one, we sacked 19 pounds, on the strength of a 6.25 pound kicker. I shouldn't complain about 19 pounds, but we had two 2.5 pound bass in the bag. If we could have culled with a couple of average 3 pounders we would have been in the top 5 out of 330 boats. The next day was extremely tough on us. The bass seemed to have simply disappeared from where they had been. At 2:00 PM, we had four small keepers as we pulled up on a deep ledge. We managed about 10 keepers in the last hour and culled up to a 14.7 limit. Our poor limit dropped us from 9th place to 21st in the final standings. 21st out of 300+ boats is not too bad, but certainly not what we had hoped for.
After taking a couple days off for the Triton Tournament, it was back to work on Monday to a packed schedule. I crammed six days worth of work into four and was up at 2:30 on Friday morning to drive back to Kentucky Lake. I decided to spend half a day fishing grass to try and figure out how to catch them, but I just couldn't make it happen. After about 7 hours if picking grass off my lure, I headed out in search of some new deep fish. I found a couple of schools with small fish, but nothing to get too excited about. Saturday, I fished with my friend Brent Anderson in the Hulmes Sporting Goods Tournament out of Paris. Brent is a great fisherman and has been on lots of schooling fish. We fished about 15 places, mostly Brent’s, and ended up with 20 pounds and a third place finish.
I drove home Saturday night, spent Sunday at church and recuperating, and after a few hours in the office on Monday morning, I was back on my way to KY Lake. (Are you beginning to see a trend here?) I think my truck can find her way there on autopilot. A friend of mine asked me to fish the Homebuilder's Association tournament on Tuesday. Now this sounds like easy money: 30-40 boats, Tuesday tournament, but truth be known, many of the same guys that win the big tournaments fish this event. It's no cakewalk. John and I started our day Tuesday morning fishing grass. We boated a quick limit with one good fish around 4.5. Then we headed out for the schoolers. The first spot we stopped was loaded! We caught fish every cast for about 30 minutes and culled up to about 19-20 pounds. Most of the fish were in the 3 pound range, but there were a few 4 pounders mixed in. With close to 20 pounds in the box, I decided to spend the rest of the day fishing big-fish holes- places where we weren't going to catch numbers, but might get a big bite. I ended up catching a 6.52 on my Hoppy's jig late in the afternoon that culled a three pounder. Our limit weighed 23.12 and we won by a slim 0.07 pound margin.
It was great to get a win, but I paid for it at work Wednesday and Thursday with jam packed days. I'll try to keep things balanced for the rest of the month. At the end of June, the fishing schedule slows down a little.
Until next time,
Keep chunkin' and windin',
Boat US Angler Pro Staff
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