From there we ventured to the Nagoya, the type of classy establishment that I rarely set foot into. Their list of sushi rolls was more extensive than the beer varieties at the Thirsty Pirate.
Val and Schram ordered five rolls of raw fish. Waitress Kim Johnson was kind, patient and helpful. She soon carried a platter of the most colorful food I’ve ever had brought to my table at any restaurant. It was a nicely done presentation. And it was, well, darn tasty.
My co-angler partner for the second and final day of the tournament was Paul Long of Sunbury, Ohio. Long is a bass nut and a professional chef who works 60 to 70 hours a week at a country club. His girlfriend bought the entry to the Open tournament as a surprise gift.
Long obviously has a winner of a girlfriend. This was his first major tournament and he was enjoying every second of it.
He failed to catch a bass on the first day. His partner, Jonathon VanDam, a former Northern Open winner here, had caught only three bass that day.
Since I was no longer in contention to win, my goal was to catch enough bass to cash a check and to get Long his first bass in an Open tournament. I figured I needed 22 pounds or more. That’s a tall order, but well within reason at Erie.
The weather laid down enough that I could easily fish my big-bass reefs. Unfortunately, my big bass were a no show. I caught four bass elsewhere, including one that weighed 5-2. I lost a few bass, but had nothing that would have pushed me over the 20-pound mark.
Long hung in all day and finally caught a smallmouth on a drop shot rig. He was happy to have it, and I was happy for him to have it. Even when things don’t go your way, it’s an amazing privilege to take on the challenge of fishing a Bassmaster Open. Long agrees.