Fishing Everstart

Jerry McKinnis

Last week I went to Kentucky Lake and fished in the FLW Everstart series. Many of the anglers at the event were surprised to see me. Websites reported that I was there, and word on the street was really surprising.

I heard that I was there recruiting anglers for B.A.S.S. Also, I saw where I was there to get pointers on how to run events. And I loved this one, "The two organizations are going to merge."

Well, I'm going to come clean and tell you my real motive for taking part in my competitor's event ... hold on to your seat now, here it comes ... I love to bass fish.

I have been doing it longer than 99 percent of the people who are reading this. I'm intrigued by it just as much now as I was back in the 1940s when I started.

I'm as competitive as any bugger you'll ever want to meet, so I love the competition. But, B.A.S.S. rules say management can't participate in B.A.S.S. events. That's good because if they could, Trip Weldon would win everything.

So, what's my next option? Go enter an Everstart. The FLW are good folks and I have competed in this particular event for 10 years now without anyone saying a word. So there you have it. My sneaky, devious motives have been exposed.

I also read where one person said I was probably a pretty good tournament angler. Wrong again. I actually stink, which is another reason I do it. You see, when I fail at something, I generally dig in deeper and I am bound and determined to get better. Please take that statement and apply it to the management of this B.A.S.S. project.

Now with all that said, let me tell you what I did bring home from the week in Kentucky. Something that is not a shocker and I preach it all the time, but here goes anyway.

I've been around and participated in lots of sports. Sometimes at a pretty high level. But I'm here to tell you that when it comes to decision making, instincts, stress and all other mental aspects of any sport or career, nothing can compare with the sport of competitive bass fishing. Nothing.

When it comes to the physical side, the long hours involving any and all kinds of weather conditions, the 1,000-cast days with your feet on a trolling motor, your eyes on everything around you, a few sports can get close, but most can't compare.

If the general public knew what a bass fisherman on any level goes through to get ready for a three- or four-day event, not to mention what they go through when competing in it, their interest and respect would go way up. Also, they would never use the world "lucky" again.

And don't ever, ever, ever tell me that a competitive bass fisherman is not an athlete. Here's a small part of what goes on during his day.

He takes a boat that weighs more than a NASCAR, points it into howling wind and moves it carefully down the bank. He then throws a lure into that wind and feels it bump the bottom as he works it back to the boat.

The bass fisherman has manipulated this boat with his right foot on the trolling motor pedal. Push forward it goes left. Push back and it goes right.

He throws the lure with his arms and feels it on the bottom with his hands. All the time his eyes never stop moving. They go from the depth finder to the water surface, even to the birds in the air or trees.

Every single one of these things happens at the same time. We're talking hand-eye coordination at the highest level. Don't ever tell me that the competitive bass fisherman is not an athlete.

When I read this back I realize why there aren't more guys trying to do this. They can't. No offense, but it's just too hard. Most people would just go back to playing golf.

Now, please don't take offense to this statement and I could really be wrong, but this is what I think.

A golfer or maybe a tennis player can go spend the day with their sport, have a great time and be perfectly happy with mediocre results as far as their game went.

A competitive bass fishermen can't handle average. Middle of the pack will never work. He comes in with a smile, a few excuses, but deep down he's mad as hell when he has done poorly.

You know how I know that? Because that's me. I don't even have the smile when I come in.

I'm 75 years old, and after last week my body is screaming at me. The things that I have just told you are a drop in the bucket compared to everything that you go through for 5 or 6 days.

But I have to get better at this and that's why when the next opportunity comes up, I'll dive right in again, regardless of what organization it's with.