One-boat bass tournaments

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Brandon Card

Brandon Card

Tennessee’s Brandon Card, who competed for the University of Kentucky, is the first Bassmaster College Series angler to qualify for the Elite Series.

I have been finalizing my Triton boat order the last several days. It has been a lot of work trying to decide what I want with all the options that are offered. Fishing out of this tricked out 21-foot bass boat will be a far cry from the boat that I grew up fishing in.

I learned how to fish out of an old 16-foot aluminum boat. I fished out of that boat for most of my childhood.

I really started to get interested in bass tournaments during my middle school years, but I knew my parents would not let me fish in big tournaments out of a 16-foot boat. So the next best thing was to have a one-boat tournament.

My brother, two friends, and I would have a tournament almost every Saturday out of our little aluminum boat. Our friends, Drew and Garrett, were also brothers. Drew was my age and Garrett was my brother’s age. Drew and I would always be a team, and Garrett and Jordan would be our competition.

It was always an intense head-to-head battle. One team would fish out of the front with the other in the back, and we would switch every two hours. Each team would get a total of four hours in the front deck, and four hours in the back deck. It is kind of funny to call them decks, because they were actually tiny little platforms.

Looking back now, I have no idea how we fit on them without knocking each other in the lake. We didn’t have a livewell in that boat, so we would measure and weigh each fish before releasing them. Best five fish of the day wins $40 (entry fee = $20 per team).
It was always an adventure, as Garrett would fall in the lake almost ever trip, rods were stepped on and broken way too often, and Drew usually caught the big fish of the day. Luckily for me, that big fish usually separated first place from last.

Nowadays, as we reminisce on our one-boat tournament days, one trip in particular stands out for all of us. It was in late spring and the fish were biting pretty well. Each team had caught a bunch, but not many big ones. It was getting close to the end of the day, and the weights were too close to know who was leading. As the day was coming to an end, we all knew that the next decent size bass would probably determine the winner.

Unfortunately for Drew and I, we had already used up our four hours in the front, so we had to finish the day in the back of the boat. I knew that the chances of us catching a big one from the back were pretty slim. Jordan and Garrett had control of the boat and were running around hitting small creeks. We pulled into one creek, and Jordan spotted a big bass cruising down the bank.

Of course he tried to position the boat where Drew and I couldn’t cast toward it. Jordan made a cast, and the fish spooked and swam even faster down the bank. He turned the trolling motor up and chased it down the bank. We finally caught up to the fish probably 100 yards later. At this point the fish is swimming and we are all four casting at it with the trolling motor on high.

This poor bass saw so many lures go by its face; I bet his head was spinning. In order, Jordan was casting a fluke, Garrett was using a tube, I was using a banjo minnow, and Drew using a Texas rig worm.

After 5 minutes of chasing this scared fish down the bank, Drew makes the perfect cast. He lobs his worm over mine and Garrett’s line and lands right on top of the fish with a loud splash. I think the worm hit its tail as it was falling, because the fish went from being scared to being mad. It turned around and smashed Drew’s worm.

Drew wrestled the 3 1/2-pounder to the boat, and we celebrated like we had just won the Bassmaster Classic. It was one of the coolest fish catches that I have ever seen! Jordan and Garrett started to fuss and whine about how it wasn’t fair, and that the fish shouldn’t count because Jordan saw it first. Big brothers can be sore losers some times. Ha-ha.

Lots of memories were made out of the little boat. The excitement of days like that day is why I’m still fishing today. And by the way, Drew and I finally got paid for first place after the big brothers got tired of crying. I think I will take my share of those winnings and order another upgrade for my new boat.

Remember to chase your dreams!

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