That's right I will call him Al (that's his name after all). It has been a great year of fishing and I've learned much. The final tourney of the Angler of the Year Series wound up on the 19th. The infamous "Where Y'at Throwdown" held in "da Parish" St. Bernard was another record setting tourney. I was proud to not only be a participant but one of the organizers of the events for Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club (www.BCKFC.org) in 2011. For me it was a hectic year fishing all 7 events for the first time and it was humbling because the competition has grown so much! Highlights were a 2nd place finish at the Minimalist Challenge and a 1st place Redfish at PaddlePalooza. From there it was mostly double digit finishes and I finished with my first DQ.
That's right I was DQ'ed for a late weight in at the "Where Y'at Throwdown" and it was my first failure to make a weigh in ever. I just lost track of time and arrived 3 minutes late. It ultimately didn't matter as I did not finish in the top 10 and the weigh in points would not have salvaged my 5th place standing in the overall event score. I lost out to a good angler and nice guy "OleDog" and feel it couldn't go to a nicer guy.
But the story of the day was that we called a last minute audible and headed out to the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Dam (Mr Go) and fished a spot I'd never been to before. After 2 hours of utter frustration I was leaving to go back to my favored location but I met "Al" at the launch and after listening to him tell me of his epic catches I headed back to the Dam with him. We drug my kayak over the dam (a good 50-75 yard portage) and found a much quiter spot to fish (there were dozens of anglers trying to fish in a two acre fishing hole on the other side).
Within minutes of arriving I had a 19" trout in the boat and I was very excited. But from there it was hard work. I tried popping corks, I tried my TTF Hackberry Hustlers (and picked up 5 decent trout including the largest of the day), but nothing seemed to be working consistently. Finally I watched another angler (SaltWarrior) pulling in some respectable trout on a 4" Gulp New Penny Shrimp. Which I had none of - in fact I almost never throw the 4" bait but after rumaging around I found "Electric Chicken" 4" Gulp which is bright green and orange and I thought, "Orange and copper are fairly close". I promptly started catching a trout about every 30 mintues.
It was hard fishing, slow retrieve with a twitch, sinking the bait down about 3-4 ft and the fish were not holding in schools. But slowly I put together a stringer that was much larger than last years 5th place stringer and I thought - time to go. But the allure of catchig a flounder stopped me a few more times. Then I found a school of trout and upgraded my stringer of 5 some more (final weight was 7.9lbs - not bad but not great). Top winners were consistently over 10lbs total stringer.
But those stops plus the drag over the dam and stopping to chit-chat along the way was a killer. Suddenly I got in my truck and realized "I've got 20 minutes to make a 30 minute drive". What was I thinking? Oh well I made the drive in 23 minutes but that was still just too late.
I've coined a saying, "Don't let a tournament ruin a good day of fishing". I had a good day. 15 nice sized trout, met a new friend, learned a new fishing style and new location - that's priceless. I grew as a fisherman and likely as a person and that is what matters most.
And 6th place out of ov3er 100 serious anglers just isn't that bad. Thanks to Al for an excellent day on the water, thanks to the Lord for His great creation, the ability to get out and enjoy it, and thanks to my wife for letting me go (again, and again, and again)!