I had to idle to where I wanted to fish, kill the outboard, cast like a madman and do it all over again. I kept screaming to no one in particular:
“I’m so blankety-blank frustrated.”
I managed to pull a limit. But even with the big bass from the mid-lake reef, I was shy of 15 pounds. My quest to win this tournament was dashed.
I drove myself, and my battered ego, back to my campsite at Catawba Island State Park. My spirits were lifted considerably when my daughter, Valerie, arrived there a short time later.
Val moved to Tulsa, Okla., a month before to take a job at a hospital there. She’s a registered nurse. She made the 14-hour drive to Erie to be with me at the tournament. Sharing the Open tournaments has been a wonderful experience for both of us.
North winds of 15 to 25 mph caused Tournament Director Chris Bowes to wisely cancel the second day of the event. The wind assaulted the tent throughout the night. I was never happier to not go fishing.
Val and I slept in. Hot, black coffee from McDonald’s on Catawba Island later brought us back to life. Now what to do?
The first stop was picking up fellow Bassmaster Open competitor Bryan Schram. Schram is a talented singer/songwriter/musician and our partner in crime at these events.
Our first stop was at a local restaurant for lunch. The overriding question was what do we do today? Schram suggested, half jokingly, that we go to Cedar Point, America’s number one rated amusement park.
Val was hesitant. It was cold and windy and the park would be nearly vacant. I pounced on the idea and convinced her that we should go. We did.
Unfortunately, we learned that the park’ off-season hours were 6 to 9 p.m. Schram and I had a tournament to fish the next day. A good night’s sleep took precedence over riding rollercoasters.
Val and Schram then decided that we needed to dine on sushi. I’ve tried it a few times without being impressed, but agreed to go along. The Nagoya restaurant on Catawba Island is known for its sushi, but we had a few hours to kill before it opened for business.
We killed that time at a nearby watering hole, the Thirsty Pirate. I entered the bar expecting bikers wearing eye patches and saying ahrr. Instead, we found a kind bartender named Alicia who introduced us to the Thirsty Pirate’s wide variety of beers.
It was hard to choose from the many beverages. Especially with names like “Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale,” “Thirsty Dog Old Leghumper” and “Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold.” Alicia recommended that we buy sampler glasses so we could savor several brews without getting wobbly. We sampled five of them.