I’m here to tell you that the tournament on the Arkansas River was one of the most physically demanding events I’ve ever fished. I can’t remember being this tired after three days of fishing in my life. It was brutal. Dare I say work?
The water was in better shape than I expected but it was still high and the current was swift. No matter what you did, or how you did it, it would sweep you along, often into places you didn’t want to go. Unless you were running it was a matter of staying on the trolling motor every minute. Get a little careless and you’d be looking at your spot through binoculars.
I fished mostly the push side of wing dams in the main river with a ChatterBait. I thought about locking through and going down where some of the other guys were fishing but I thought it was too much of a risk. You really cut your fishing time down — some of the guys who locked twice each way only fished three hours — and you always take a chance on getting fouled up in the locks.
However, looking back on it I have to say that the guys who didn’t have lock problems did pretty good. That includes my friend Denny Brauer. I couldn’t be happier for him. That was really impressive, wasn’t it? He held the top spot all four days. What a career that man’s had!
My own strategy had its problems. It was a bear to hold the boat in place and try to make accurate and effective casts. I’m usually careful with my boat but it has several damaged spots in the fiberglass from the rocks and the concrete by Saturday afternoon. I just couldn’t hold it in place.
There was a positive to the wicked current, though. I was able to put my bait in every tiny, protected spot around the dam. That really helped me catch them. I’m not going to complain too loud when the overall result is positive.
Another positive was that I earned a check. On Friday I was afraid I was going to miss the cut by less than a pound. That would have made four times this year and would have really hurt — in more ways than one. It’s one thing not to catch them. It’s another thing to continually miss by ounces.
Putting everything together I have to say that this was a pretty good event. It was different from what we’ve been fishing and it took a different skill set to excel in it. That’s not all bad, you know. We need a little diversity in our lives regardless of how we earn our living. It keeps us on our toes.
Am I starting to sound old? I hope not, but fear that I am. I mean, when you describe bass fishing as work…