Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Big Show Breakdown


See that arm over on the right side of the photo? That's me. And that's as close as I've come to being famous. The guy in the photo is B.A.S.S. pro Brian Clark, my Day 3 partner.

I guess I should back up and explain. First of all, a lot has happened since my last blog. I moved into a new apartment-good. I have a new roommate-better. I got a promotion and raise at work-sweet. My brother got married-he will be missed. And I was able to participate in the biggest bass tournament of my life-awesome.

I had a great time during the tournament. My first day partner was veteran angler Ken Cook. Ken used to be a fisheries biologist before he began fishing full time. In August 1991 he won the Bassmaster Classic, the Super Bowl of bass fishing. Back then the prize money for that tournament was only $50,000. The Elite tourneys today award $100,000 for first place and $500,000 for the Classic. Fishing has come a long way, baby.

Ken didn't talk much, but nor did I. We concentrated on our task at hand. We both caught plenty of fish and brought in decent weights for day 1. I finished the day in 18th place with 5 fish, 10lb 1oz. My 2nd day partner was Jeff Reynolds. Jeff didn't talk much either
and the fishing wasn't as good as day 1. I finished day 2 in 31st place 5 fish, 6lbs even; good enough to make the top 50 cut for the final day.
Day 3 was Brian Clark. Even though Brian is a big Dallas Cowboys fan and I'm a big Washington Redskins fan we were able to set aside our football fandom malice and have a great time. What we lacked in finding fish we made up for in conversation. And at the end of the tournament I only brought in 4 fish for 5lb 9oz and finished 40th. I brought home a modest $500 check and a lot of experience and knowledge I couldn't have received any other way.

B.A.S.S. has agreed to hold one of their Elite series tournaments out of Paris Landing next year. That will practically be in my backyard. I will definitely be there for that one!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Big Show-revised

Update on the Elite Series tournament. I found out I was 69th on the WAITING list for the KY Lake Elite tourney. So, I canceled that entry and registered for the Lake Wheeler tourney which is the first week in June out of Decatur, Al. I am currently 6th on the waiting list for that one. Hopefully I'll get to squeak in there. I've been on Wheeler twice for club tournaments and it's very similar to my home lake. I think it will still be a valuable experience. So until then I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Big Show

Things have been rather uneventful this Winter for the Ichthyophile. After the tournament season ended I put up all my tackle and dusted off the duck hunting gear. We've had an average season I'd say. Some days were downright boring. We finally got some good COLD temps here the last couple of weeks which has at least made it feel like duck hunting weather. The season will wrap up on the 27th and then it will be time to start thinking about how I can improve on last year's fishing season. That starts with looking at maps and deciding where I can put brush piles to help attract some better fish to certain areas.

Another thing I've decided to do this year to improve my knowledge and skills is participate in a REAL professional tournament. The B.A.S.S. Elite tour series is making a stop on Kentucky Lake this June. The Elite series is the name given to the organization's major annual tour. Each tournament consists of the top 100 professional anglers from the previous year or who have met certain career criteria. With those 100 pro's will be 100 co-anglers; one of which being me. The tournament is a 4 day event. After the first 2 days the field is cut down to the top 50 pro's and top 50 co-anglers. Day 3 is the co-anglers' final day. The winner of that will receive a brand new, fully rigged bass boat, retail value approx. $45k. Not too bad. The most important thing I want to gain from this experience is just that-experience. Each day I'll be paired with a different pro who may fish a different style or different pattern. I hope to learn how they think and how they evaluate certain conditions and the decisions they make accordingly. There are a lot of anglers I'd love to be paired with and as long as I don't get stuck with this guy I should have a great time. If you remember back in June 2006 I posted my thoughts on his behavior. Let's hope I'm spared the "pleasure" of that experience.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A friend of mine shared a link to an interesting book this week. The author of this book is a widely known and passionate bird expert from Minnesota. I've added a link to her blog, so feel free to check it out and see all of her adventures!

I was reading one of her posts that had a youtube video of people telling stories about their "spark bird". A spark bird is the species of bird that initially sparks one's interest in bird watching.
I've never considered myself a "birder", but I've had a deep interest them, and all wildlife, ever since I was old enough to go hunting with my dad. My mom likes to tell the story of the time I was in kindergarten and I colored a bunch of ducks on paper different colors to match actual species of wild great detail right down to the speculum. The Canvasback is probably the first duck I remember. They're fun to watch as they sail into the fields and circle. Especially on overcast days when the white backs of the males stand out against the dark wooded backgrounds.

So anywow, stop over and give Birdchick a peep.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Number 1 With a Bullet Weight

Last Saturday the bass club had its final tournament of the season. Going into the tourney I was still on top in the point race with a slim 2 point lead over one of the club's best Fall fishermen. Along with him were about 5 others who were within 5 points of first place.

The day didn't start off too well. My motor quit on me about half way to my first stop. It was looking like I would have to change plans and fish closer to the launch area if I couldn't get the motor working. After several tries it finally worked well enough to get me where I wanted to go. For the rest of the day I had to be careful to not push the motor past its limits. I decided to stay longer in my 3 main spots and be patient instead of running to some secondary locations and risking more mechanical problems. That made for a long day as it took me nearly the entire tournament time to catch a limit of 5. I was about a 15 minute drive down the river at my last spot with 45 minutes left. I decided to start heading back and hopefully I would have enough time to stop and try one more place before calling it a day. The motor had other plans. It never would go to full throttle when I tried to take off. I was desperately trying to call my dad, other club members, and even my mother to tell her to try to call a club member's spouse to see if she could get his cell number. Not having any luck there, I tried the motor one more time and it worked....just barely. I cruised home at 40mph and arrived with just a few minutes left before the end. I figured I had about 10 pounds and expected several of the others to have at least that and the winner to have 15 pounds or better. I was ready to accept that this year's goal was about to be lost. As it turns out I came in 3rd place with 11.10lbs, only .1lbs behind 2nd place and a little over 2lbs out of 1st place. But that was more than enough to keep me in first place for the year. Angler of the Year!

So that's the end of this year's fishing for me. My tackle box and rods are back in my closet and there won't be much to do except save up for the next 6 or 7 weeks. Then I'll be hunting innocent, defenseless waterfowl through the end of January. Then it will be back to preparing for another fishing season, putting out brush piles, saving GPS coordinates, etc. Until then I will have to think of other topics to write about. Any ideas?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hangin' On

Updating my status in the bass club, as you can see by this picture taken right after the tournament, I'm still hanging in there. That reminds me; I'm gettin' a little too fuzzy.....need to shave soon.

As I mentioned before, going into August's tournament I was having a pretty good season and had high hopes for doing well at Barkley Lake. As luck would have it my partner turned out to be my dad, which is also good. We've fished a lot together the last few years and we share similar approaches to conditions. I took a look at the standings before we took off that morning and saw that I had an 8 point lead over the next best angler. But alas, August still remains my nemesis. Despite having several factors leaning in my favor we failed to weigh in a single keeper fish. We caught about 10 short fish throughout the day in the places we expected them to be but the bigger fish just weren't home.

With 2 more tournaments left I am sitting in 2nd place, only 3 points behind the new leader.
September should be a good tournament if the weather can cool off enough and I'll have to draw a good partner who knows where to go. I'm still in a good spot but there's little time left to stay where I am.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday Night Fever

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Following up on last week's blog about my ongoing battle to the top of the bass club ranks, last Saturday's night tournament went well enough. I guess you could say I'm "Stayin' Alive".
The fishing was tough for everyone. My partner and I only caught 3 keepers weighing 8.05lbs, but that was enough to get 3rd place. I was hoping to do better but 3rd place is still ok. It keeps me within reach of where I want to be and it beats this.

The next tournament is August 11. If I do have a nemesis it's the month of August. For some reason I've never been able to do well in that time of year. The only positive so far is that this tourney will be held near Dover, TN on Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake's sister body of water. The positive is A.) I've always loved this lake and B.) The only time I've won an August tournament is when I fished on Barkley. So I got that going for me.

More to come.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm Back?

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This year I decided to rejoin the local bass club back home. I first joined the club in 1995 and became the youngest member at age 19. I did fairly well and finished in the top 12 a couple times and even made the state team(top 6) my final year. I left that club to join another so I could partner up with my cousin as a buddy team. We became the youngest team in that club as well and finished as the top team 3 out 4 years until the members decided to dissolve the club. Perhaps they were tired of losing to the youngest team with the smallest boat and figured it was time to go our separate ways. Now once again, I'm back in the club and to my knowledge I am still the youngest member. The night I joined I wasn't able to attend the meeting but according to my dad there were a few comments from the members joking how they weren't sure if they should let me back in because they remembered how well I did before. It's still too soon to toot my own horn, but halfway through the season I have managed to do pretty well.
In March I placed 7th, in April-3rd, in May-2nd, in June-2nd. We fish 9 tournaments in a season and each member is allowed to drop their 2 lowest scores. If I can hang in there and stay consistent for the next 2 tournaments I should have a good chance at being number one. This month's tournament will be at night on the 28th, 10pm-6am. As best I can remember I haven't been night fishing on this lake since 2000. It's going to be tough to compete with these guys, many of whom have 20+ years more experience and have the liberty of living near the lake and going out whenever they please. These guys are as close as I come to having peers and although there aren't any nemeses in the club, nothing else would make me happier than to come out on top this year. I'll have an update after the next tournament.

P.S. Go see the Simpsons movie July 27!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Is it Hot in Here or Is it Just Me?

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Good question, Ernie. It seems like we Americans are divided on so many issues these days. You've got your Mac loyalists and your PC people. You've got those who love crocs and those who hate crocs. (which if you ask me, that blogger just doesn't get it. they're not supposed to be worn for fashion!) You've got red states and blue states even though we really are just one big purple country. There's them what love American Idol and there's them that don't. And it goes on and on and on.

Tonight, talk radio show host Glenn Beck will air a special on his tv show on CNN's Headline news channel. He'll be discussing the global warming debate; specifically how it has become a one-sided dogmatic belief. Before long, this will be Al Gore's campaign motto.

I urge all who can to watch this show tonight. There's no doubt there is some sort of climate change happening-but the cause isn't completely understood. As it should be with any topic, I believe it's important to do my own research and consider all the evidence before I form an opinion.

This year you will see how environmental awareness will effect our economy. With the rise in funding for new ethanol manufacturing plants comes the rise in demand for corn crops. This year we will have the largest increase in corn crop acreage in the last 60 years. Because so much land is being used to plant corn that means there is fewer land available for produce contracts, primarily vegetables. We'll see some supply problems and price increases as the year progresses as well as an increase in imported vegetables. Since the government offers subsidies for corn and soy bean growers, the farmers are looking at a guaranteed income amount in case of a drought, flood, cold snap, or other weather or pest related events. As a result the price of corn has begun to rise steadily also. This has a ripple effect reaching out to beef cattle, milk farms, and poultry farms. Chicken prices have been up the last 2 months and there's evidence that trend will continue for at least 3 more months.

If we're going to decide to finally do something to help preserve our environment and change the way we function, we're going to have to be willing to accept the economic consequences.

Remember, we all can do our part.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Phools

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I've been expecting these guys to bloom any day now and they finally did. So, when I saw these babies along the backroad on my way to I 40 at Bucksnort I had to jump out and snap a few shots. They're called Blue Phlox; my favorite wildflower. Hey, even a man can appreciate flowers. Besides, I'm an outdoorsman; I'm entitled. There are more than 60 species of Phlox native to North America and by far Blue Phlox is the most abundant in Tennessee. Even its species name divaricata is derived from Latin meaning "widespread". The name Phlox comes from Greek meaning "flame"-due to the flowers' striking brilliant colors.

I usually like to have original, unique blog ideas and although phlox is very common, I think it's worth writing about because of its characteristics.

As far back as I can remember I've always associated this plant with spring. I can remember walking through the woods along logging roads while turkey hunting and seeing patches of phlox sprouting up above the dead leaves. It would stand out among all the drab brown understory; full of life while most other plants are still slow to peep out from under the leaves. Just like the daffodils who burst out at first hint of a warm spell, phlox takes advantage of this heat wave to do its thing. I'm afraid they too are in for a chilling surprise later this week when a cold front moves through projected to give us a few nights in the 30's. Oh phoolish phlox, won't you ever learn?

But it's that brevity that I appreciate. As well as the simple design. Five simple petals....
I reckon this is my version of giving a "stop and smell the roses" message. What's the moral of the Phlox story? Show up early-Look good- Keep it simple-Do your Thing.

So I'll follow along with that and end it here. If you would like to see a few more of my Phlox photos you'll find them here.