Change is the only constant

I’ve been on Douglas Lake in Tennessee for the last several days. What a change this is! In Zapata, Texas, it was around the 100-degree mark, the water was bath warm and the fish were in their postspawn mode. Here it’s just the opposite. The weather’s cold, the water’s cold and the fish are still in their prespawn mode.

It’s been snowing off and on since Friday. You know it’s one of those spring weather patterns those of us who live within a few hundred miles of here are all too familiar with. It’ll snow for a half-hour, turn the grass and your boat carpet white, melt in another half-hour and then do it all over again. Basically, you could say it’s been miserable.

Nevertheless, I’m really looking forward to the second Bass Pro Shops Southern Open that starts next Thursday. There’s something about getting off to a good start that gets your blood flowing and your attitude right. And I think the fish will be bigger this time than some of the guys think. Prespawn females are often full of eggs, you know. That makes weight.

Big is a matter of perspective, however. Eggs or not, they won’t even approach what we were catching last week on Falcon. The size of those fish is almost unbelievable. Almost every angler in the tournament can tell stories of losing fish between 5 and 8 pounds. In most lakes, that would put you into counseling but not on Falcon. You just shake your head and keep fishing, confident in the knowledge that another one that big is just around the corner.

One of my big fish Falcon stories is pretty funny. On the second day, I lost two good keepers late in the afternoon. I was heartbroken. I didn’t think I had enough weight to make the cut and fish on Saturday.

Fighting nerves, I pitched into a bush with no more than one or two minutes left. I felt a thump and set the hook. The bush exploded. I pulled. She pulled. I pulled some more. She pulled some more. There was no doubt in my mind that I’d hooked the biggest bass of my life. That fish fought like…well, like a 25- or 30-pound carp would fight that was hooked in the butt.

Fortunately, I was wrong about my weight. I got through the cut and ended up having a respectable tournament. I’m in good shape to make the Classic in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings if I can just keep it up.

I’m certainly not predicting anything, though, other than that I’ll give every tournament my best effort. Decades of tournament bass fishing have taught me that things can change for the good, or the bad, in a matter of minutes. It isn’t a done deal until it’s a done deal. Every angler out there wants to be on Guntersville next February, and every single one of them can fish.

Congratulations to Keith Combs on his win! And congratulations to Rick Clunn on another class performance! Tell me this isn’t the greatest sport ever.

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