2011 Bass Pro Shops Northern Open #3 Oneida Lake - Syracuse, NY, Sep 22 - 24, 2011

One bass yet celebration of life

Mark Hicks
Valerie did well on stage.

My first day of fishing at Oneida Lake was a disaster. Almost everyone carried a heavy sack of bass to the scales, except me. I boated one bass.

I won’t bore you with how I managed to do so poorly when Oneida’s smallmouth and largemouth bass were on fire. I’ll keep it simple. I blew it. Nuf said.

I was in third flight. After weighing in my bass, I waited anxiously for Valerie to come in. She was in ninth flight.

I worried that she might have a miserably day in the rain. When we pre-fished together, she gave out after 4 hours of casting. Would she be bored, or would the tournament bug keep her going?

\When I saw Valerie pull up to the dock in Eric Smith’s boat, I knew immediately that things went well. She was standing full of energy with a big smile.

And, she had a bass!

I was tickled. Valerie had a blast with Eric. She learned a lot, and couldn’t stop talking. I got busy with my camera as she went through the weigh-in process. Talk about memories. When Valerie got on stage, tournament director Chris Bowes made a big deal of our dairies on the Bassmaster web site. He told the fans that this was her first tournament.

When Bowes asked Valerie about her day, she said it was hard work but fun. She also gave props to the pros that fish with such intensity day after day.

Valerie laughed when she learned that her 2-pound, 8-ounce, smallmouth weighed exactly the same as the bass I had caught. I wish she had beaten me by 10 pounds.

Valerie and I are so far behind in the standings that it’s unlikely either of us has a shot at a check. But, we’ll be out there on Oneida Lake tomorrow, fishing for all we’re worth.

This is more than a bass tournament. It’s a celebration of life.

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