Bassmaster Elite Series, Fantasy Fishing

LAKE MARTIN, AL – “Play Bassmaster Elite Series Fantasy Fishing”, they said… “it will be fun!”, they said.  So yeah, evaluating my first tournament I guess it was a lot of fun if I don’t care about my actual result.  Of course in all actuality it was a lot of fun, borderline complete blast.  It made my engagement with the tourney a whole different experience than just looking at the leaderboards and waiting for it to be broadcast on television.  I found myself glued to the BASStrakk feed on Twitter, praying to see any of the names from my handpicked team.  While I envisioned myself becoming the Robert Kraft or George Steinbrenner of Fantasy Fishing ownership, the reality is that I put quite the jinx on a set of accomplished anglers.  For those familiar with the movie Office Space, I can hear the complete roster of anglers in Lumbergh’s voice saying, “uhm… yea… so if you could just not pick me, that’d be great”.  Sadly, some will be drafted to team CoolWaterFish.

For those unfamiliar with format, you select one angler from predefined groups A through E.  You score points based on each of your anglers overall place in the tourney.  All anglers fish the first two days, top 51 fish Day 3, top 12 fish Day 4.  I had 2 anglers fishing Day 3 (Matt Lee, 32nd and Chris Lane, 49th) and none on Day 4.  As a percentage, I was only 22.6% which means the vast majority of fantasy owners outperformed me.

So what was my methodology with choosing my team?  Well, I had many ideas and I decided to go with anglers from the same state as the event.  I applied the fact that I tend to do my best fishing on water I have fished the most.  My thought process is that these anglers would have likely fished Lake Martin more frequently as they made their way up through the ranks to the Elite Series.  I also thought residing in the state, if they still recreationally fished or did guiding, it might have them there more.  In the end, I think the entire field being the top professionals in the world, any local advantage was mitigated.  I will definitely use different methodology next event.

Feel free to leave a comment where you finished for the event, as for me 20,641st.  Ugh!~

Entering the new year with a plan

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – Outside of growing one year older, I love the new year and the hope it gives to doing anything and everything better than the previous year.  For 2018, rather than simply relying on “hope”, I am approaching the year with a more formalized plan.  I’ve noticed that with career and family, amplified by the fact the kids are young, the day to day chaos causes missed opportunities for recreation.  As my wife and I have already been using the calendar more, blocking off dates, writing in specific places to explore, and even booking trips… this year feels different, and better!

It’s probably worth noting I’ve taken this whole ‘planned approach’ beyond just as it applies to creating more fishing opportunities and quality time with the family.  Ultimately, I believe it will make the blog have more new content and be a better read.

 

2017 North Ridgeville Corn Festival, Fishing Derby

A happy Bryce, ready to catch some fish

NORTH RIDGEVILLE, OH – The past few weeks, I had gotten the kids pretty excited over the upcoming fishing derby that takes place as part of the North Ridgeville Corn Festival.  The derby is ran by some of the nicest folks you could ever meet, the North Ridgeville Fishing Club.  While I had a great time last year (you can read that post here), I was especially excited for this year’s derby as my daughter was now old enough to participate.  With both kids eager to attend, and the idea of sharp hooks and only daddy supervision, I knew my wife would be joining us.  While my wife is deserving of a nice Saturday morning to sleep in, I was thrilled to have the entire family with me.  The fishing may not be of much interest to her, but the cabbage and noodles, chicken paprikash, or deep fried pickles that awaited us when the fishing concluded, surely did!

Alexis and mommy waiting for the ‘big one’

Expectations always remain low for me at any formal fishing event.  My luck just usually is worse, if there is any type of extra pressure to have success.  Today would be especially bad due to having everyone with me and the fact that I had hyped it up so much with the kids.  In the end, I know time together is priceless, but a 5 and 3 year old having fun and being content requires catching fish.  Today that meant having all the gear needed (and more), and prayers!

Mommy and daddy enjoying Alexis, fishing isn’t just for Bryce

Despite my best efforts, the first few hours were typical… doing everything to keep just enough bites going so the kids didn’t fade on me.  I eventually determined I would try one rod, still-fishing off the bottom, while they continued their bobber fishing.  This new strategy didn’t provide any instant result, but after about 30 minutes I saw the rod getting some action.  A slight bend, and I handed the rod to Bryce.  I was shocked to see the rod bend in half and Bryce suddenly yelled, “It’s too heavy!”.  Initially, I thought a fish had simply thrown the hook into a submerged log or got him wrapped around some rocks or debris.  But after he asked me to help hold the rod with him, I could feel the heavy fish fighting.  I encouraged him he could do it, and he reluctantly took full control as I removed my hand from steadying the rod.  When I saw the fish jump, I knew it was a trophy, and desperately hoped he would succeed.  Not just for him, but for all of us – we really wanted to see this fish!  I took up the net and it was funny how he yelled which way the fish was heading (even though I could see).  I can’t begin to describe the angst I had while he was fighting the fish and then the overwhelming joy when he successfully brought the fish in.

Bryce’s big bass, the largest I have ever seen come from a small urban lake

My already rather fun day, suddenly turned epic.  Now that it was landed, I became more aware of my surroundings and could hear everyone fishing around us shouting “what did he get?!”.  I responded, “A huge Largemouth!”.  I was so excited for him and it was truly a surreal moment.  I came to my senses fast enough to know I wanted some quick pictures, before sprinting with it in a bucket, to the judges station.  I normally let Bryce carry the fish – or fish in the bucket, but I left him trailing behind me.  I wanted this fish to live.  Bryce did catch up by the time the fish was measured (at 20 and a half inches), and the fishing club did a couple more photos.  As much as I wanted to admire the catch – and let everyone else and Bryce admire it too, it needed to get back in the lake.  A few back and forth motions in the water, and the fish strongly swam away into the depths.  The exact ending I wanted for a fish giving my family a lifetime memory.  I pray it does this again for someone else, with the same outcome.

Happy kids assembling for the awards ceremony

After the catch, there was about 45 minutes until the event ended.  We were treated to seeing the largest fish of the derby getting caught, a 26″ Channel Catfish.  Thankfully, the polite young man who caught it was in an older age group, or Bryce would have been devastated that his catch wasn’t the largest.  There were a lot of ‘parenting moments’ as he dealt with his own sense of accomplishment, while having to be excited and happy for someone else.  I can’t recall ever noticing his competitiveness as much as today, when he kept asking whose catch was better.

Derby winners and runner ups

Bryce’s catch earned him a new fishing rod combo and loaded tackle tray.  While everyone was enjoying the drinks and hotdogs provided by the fishing club, I sought out a boy that didn’t win anything.  Unbeknownst to Bryce, I gave away his combo.  He was given one last year, and at 5, didn’t have the maturity to understand the right thing to do.  I was happy to make this kid’s day, as he didn’t leave empty handed.  It got even better, when the adults with him said he didn’t have his own fishing rod until now.  This banner day, couldn’t have ended better.

A parting shot of the big fish