Waking up to a fire in your boat is no fun. What happened to me on Thursday morning of last week is something I’m still trying to wrap my head around.
The first thing I want to do this week is make sure everyone understands that, as of right now, there’s been no determination of how it started. I’ve been asked that question over and over. I do not want to speculate. There are professionals looking at it. We should let them do what they’re trained to do.
As bad as the fire was, though, I have to say that it brought out the best in the people around me. Most of the anglers offered to help with rods, reels and tackle. I appreciate that, and without their generosity I’d have been in even worse shape when I launched on Thursday morning. In fact, I wouldn’t have been able to launch, or at least to compete.
I especially want to say thanks to Jodie Haralson, one of the Marshals, for letting me use his boat. It’s a little hard to fish without one. And I want to mention my brother, Bobby. Without even saying anything to me, he had a complete set of rods and reels spooled with new line ready to go before we launched. (Mine were all destroyed in the fire.) Todd Faircloth and Jeff Kriet were right there, too.
The other big thing that I want to mention, and something that I think is a reminder to all of us, is that this sport is a mental thing. You can’t catch fish when your head isn’t in the game. I proved that on Thursday.
I caught three fish. I think I could have done better but I missed a couple of bites. That shouldn’t have happened. Can you imagine, fishing at the Elite level, watching your line moving off sideways and thinking that you should set the hook because it’s probably a fish? I can.
Let’s face it; setting the hook under those circumstances should be automatic. You should never not expect a bite at this level of competition. But, I did it — not once, but twice. I paid a price for it. I ended up two fish short of a limit.
We could say the same thing about physical preparation. I launched and headed towards my first spot without having a lure tied on. I can’t remember ever doing that in a tournament. Was it the end of the world? No. But it was another example of how not to fish a tournament, an example of what happens when your head isn’t where it should be.
When I talk about all of that I’m not making excuses. I’m simply stating the facts. What happened to me with the fire shows all of us the importance of the mental side of tournament fishing as well as the importance of preparation.
Anyway, that was last week. My deal now is to get my boat wrapped — Lisa and her husband from Legend Boats brought me a new one at the tournament site on Saturday — and get all my tackle replaced in time for Chickamauga.
Actually, tackle isn’t going to be a problem. Most of it is already on the way. I can’t say enough positive things about my sponsors. Most of them responded before they were asked. One thing’s for sure. I won’t be able to use equipment or tackle problems as an excuse when we go to Chickamauga.