Sometimes the old saying “If it wasn’t for bad luck I would not have any luck at all” seems to apply to my fishing trips. After looking forward all year to the three club tournament at Lake Martin a few years ago, the trip week before last certainly had its ups and downs.
When I got to Wind Creek State Park Wednesday afternoon I was lucky enough to get a campsite on the water. There were 500 FEMA trailers set up in the campground, leaving 120 sites for visitors. I got my boat in the water, set up my van for camping and went out riding around for a couple of hours. Back at the campsite I was scraping glue off a plug and my knife point slipped, sticking into my thumb deep enough to draw blood.
Thursday morning I got up and headed to a favorite spot to check it out. I hooked three bass on three casts and left, planning on starting at that spot in the tournament. Unfortunately, when I stopped across the river at another spot I heard a boat crank up at a dock near where I had left. They went straight to “my” spot and I watched them catching bass and putting them in their ice chest. I am not sure if they saw me catching fish, but for the next three days that boat was on that spot every time I went past.
I fished for a couple of hours and landed a good many bass, so I was pleased with the results. At noon I stopped on a spot I wanted to fish, put the trolling motor in the water and picked up a rod. The line on the rod I picked up caught the handle of another reel and flipped it into the lake.
I reacted rather than thinking and grabbed for the rod – and fell out of the boat. I remember still grabbing for the rod as I went under, then coming to the top and reaching for the boat. This was the first time I ever fell out of a boat in all my years in them.
I tried to hold the side of my boat but I was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, and as soon as I stopped paddling with my hands I started sinking. The boat sides were slick and I could not hold on. I started to panic, not knowing what to do. All the stories of fishermen drowning flashed through my mind.
Somehow I managed to get to the motor of the boat and pull myself in, using it as a ladder. Once in the boat I threw out a marker, what I should have done as soon as the rod went overboard. By now the boat had drifted so I realized my chances of snagging the rod were slim.
Then I remembered my sunglasses – my prescription bifocal sunglasses. My $300 glasses were on the bottom of the lake with my $200 rod and reel. That was quite a mistake! The rest of the day was uneventful and I was lucky to be alive.
Friday morning I went to a point and got seven bites real quick, so I had a good place to start. In other places I landed a lot of bass. One of them flipped as I tried to take it off the plug and drove a hook past the barb into my thumb. I finally got it off the plug and pulled the hook out with a pair of pliers.
Saturday morning I quickly landed my limit of small bass and headed up to the place I had lost my rod and glasses, hoping for one bite from a big bass. I got it at 2:30 PM, the fish slapped at a buzzbait and missed then sucked in a jig and pig. I fought the fish out of the tree it was in to clear water and it jumped. My heart jumped, too, the fish was a good six pound bass, just the one I wanted. Then my jig flew out of its mouth. I almost had another rod and reel at the bottom of the lake but I stopped myself from throwing it in.
Sunday morning the second bass I caught shook as I took it off the plug but I got it into the livewell. While fishing my hand slipped on the reel handle and I looked down to see blood everywhere. Something had ripped a hunk of meat out of my finger while I unhooked that fish.
I tried hard, but only caught five bass that day. At least nothing else got hurt and I made it home in one piece. Right now I have Band-Aids on three fingers and memories of the big one that got away, but I feel more safe sitting at my desk!
Javin English won the tournament with 13 bass weighing 17.04 pounds. Lee Hancodk had 10 bass weighing 15.49 for second, and his big one did not get away. It got big fish honors at 6.12 pounds. Tommy Reeves was third with 11 bass weighing 15.47, Billy Roberts was fourth with 12 weighing 14.83, I was fifth with 12 weighing 13.74 and Ronnie Gregory rounded out the top six with 12 at 13.14.
I am already looking forward to the trip to Martin next fall!