Had a couple of really interesting days this week. Days that I guess I could say were a heck of a lot of fun, and very rewarding.
Both days took place in Detroit, Mich., with the first at a beautiful city park with a small lake right in the middle of it.
This lake, Kent, was the site of the second annual Kevin VanDam/Detroit Lions charity bass tournament, and a great time was had by all.
It was a half-day event with 30 bass boats that were allowed to run about 10 mph, and each boat consisted of a captain (10 were Elite pros), a member of the Detroit Lions (even Coach Schwartz participated), and a corporate sponsor, like Tim Humes from Carhartt and Andy George with Bass Pro Shops.
Now, I was teamed with Chad Pipkens and former Lions place-kicker Jason Hanson, who made the trip a real plus for me. Jason was Detroit’s kicker for 21 years.
Now how many times do you get to spend quality time in a boat with a place-kicker who’s headed for the NFL Hall of Fame?
So, before the boats took off, during the competition, and even after it was over, the trash talk was almost out of control.
Being the fine outstanding citizen that I am, though, I took no part in this behavior. But I did tell my team that all we had to do to be declared the winner was beat one team. The Mark Zona/Willie Young team. Finish ahead of them on the scoreboard, and victory is ours.
As we pulled away from the dock, Willie and Zona were jawin’ at us, but what could I do? Zona's partner is a 6-foot-5, 260-pound NFL defensive end. My partner's a place-kicker.
We'd just have to flex our fishing skills, and we did, sort of. Pipkens boated a 1-pound, 3-ounce bass, while Willie and Zona got skunked. We win!
Seriously, after the weigh-in, Willie came over to me and started talking football. What a thrill because this is obviously a great athlete, and I'll bet he's great in the locker room. He’s eaten up with charisma, lights up the whole place when he shows up and for him to spend a little time talking with me was a real honor.
Now I kind of stepped back and watched this whole affair, and I was so proud of the VanDams, Sherry and Kevin. For the second year, they worked so hard to put this together and make sure it happened like it was supposed to.
Oh yes, I know there were a lot of super volunteers, boat captains, Jon Stewart with B.A.S.S., the Detroit Lions organization, etc. But Kevin and Sherry (particularly Sherry) work all year on this. They're probably working on next year right now.
One last thing. In order to put a hit on Zona's ego, I told Willie Young to go over and tell Mark he wanted to fish with me next year. Willie was all over that. So he walked over to Zona and said to him, "You know, I think the Z-Train is running out of gas, and I might want to fish with Jerry next year."
Zona immediately starts scanning the crowd, looking for me, knowing I was stirring up trouble. It was all in fun, of course, and for a great cause.
On the second day in Detroit, to kind of unwind, KVD and I, along with James Overstreet, fished all day on Lake St. Clair – yes that St. Clair.
So Monday, I'm fishing with a Hall of Fame place-kicker, and Tuesday, I'm in the boat with a Hall of Fame bass fisherman and a Hall of Fame photographer, if there is such a thing.
Role Reversal: James Overstreet doing the catching and KVD the photographer.
What a day with these two guys. By the way, Overstreet is a darn good bass fisherman. In fact, I am proud to say that with all the photos that he has taken and we've all enjoyed, this may be one of the first articles that a photo of him with a fish catch has appeared, and it was taken by – KVD. Top that, folks.
The smallmouth fishing was so good; I don't even know what to say about it. However, over a big steak that evening, Davy Hite and son Peyton, who were there for the charity event and also stayed over for a day on St. Clair, ask me this question.
"Jerry, you've been everywhere bass fishing. Have you ever fished a lake like St. Clair, where, with no recent knowledge, you could pull up on a spot, and instantly start catching 3- and 4-pound smallmouth, and lots of them?"
Well, I know no other water quite like this, and here are a couple things Davy left out. You can do it by casting on either side of the boat, and if conditions are right, you might catch 30 smallmouth between 3 and 5 pounds during the day. To top this all off, this giant lake sits right in the middle of one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world, Detroit.
The Elite Series goes to Lake St. Clair on Aug. 22-25, and the Michigan folks should get quite a show when these guys show up. The last time the Bassmasters were there was 12 years ago. Davy Hite won that event, and he said he caught about 55 pounds to win that three-day event.
He thinks with halfway decent conditions, and a four-day contest, the winner this time might need nearly 90 pounds, and they'll all be smallmouth.
Like I said, these were two interesting days in Detroit.