Sometimes bad fishing luck can turn into good luck. Last Sunday at the Sportsman Club tournament at Bartletts Ferry Sam Smith’s boat broke down before 9:00 AM a long way from the ramp. It took him almost six hours to get back to the ramp using his trolling motor and fishing as he went. He caught enough to win first place and big fish.
The first time it happened to me was in the late 1970s in a tournament at West Point, soon after it filled. Emmett Piland and I were fishing together out of my boat and we camped at Holliday Park the night before the tournament in pouring rain. The next morning my van was stuck in the soft ground at the campsite and by the time we got it out we arrived at the ramp just as it was time to go.
We checked in and finally got the boat in the water after everyone else had left. Then my motor would not crank for several minutes. When it finally cranked, it skipped and sputtered and would not get on plane so we slowly idled to the nearby bridge to fish, not where we had planned on fishing.
During that day we caught more than 100 bass off the riprap on the bridge. Many times we both had bass on at the same time. After lunch another boat in the tournament stopped as they idled under the bridge and said they had not caught a fish all day. About that time Emmett and I both set the hook and landed keepers. They just shook their heads and left.
We came in first and second in that tournament. If we had not had problems that morning we would have been running all over the lake and might not have caught a fish.
Another tournament at Bartletts Ferry a few years ago in February one of the boats would not crank in the cold. While the rest of us ran all over the lake trying to catch a fish they fished around the cove at the ramp all day, and came in first and second and one of them had big fish.
In a 2011 tournament at West Point I took off from Glass Bridge ramp and between the Highway 109 bridge and the railroad causeway my motor blew up. It took me all day to get back to the ramp but I caught enough bass to place third.
Of course, there have been many more times when bad luck with the motor just ended up being a very bad day.