Sweet home Alabama, or in this case...the Yankee stomping grounds. It's on, Barone.
James Overstreet and I are roaring eastward from Arkansas to Alabama, our boat in tow and Tundra humming. We look like a couple of NFL linemen psyching up for battle. Every once in a while, Overstreet will send a forearm shiver to the dash, growl out a “Bah-rone” and then sit back and work himself up again.
This is living, I tell ya.
We are on our way to Decatur, Ala., for the Toyota Bonus Bucks Tournament this weekend. Neither of us is a stranger to driving hundreds of miles (325 miles to be exact) to a tournament. We do it about every other week.
Typically, though, we are headed to an Elite or an Open or an All Star event where we spend more time shooting photos of anglers and writing about them than actually fishing.
For this one, we are loaded for bear. We have enough tackle, rods and reels and every thing in between to catch every swimming fish in Alabama. But that’s not the bear we are talking about.
If you check out “Flyin’ Pigs,” then you might get an idea of the bear I’m referring to. Yes, he’s a teddy bear, our good friend Don Bah-rone, the Yankee hippee who has a style with words that is unequaled in our business, even though he would make an excellent second for Gallagher. He even wears goofy hats.
I still remember when Bah-rone and I worked for ESPN and I had to beg him to come to his first tournament on Lake Champlain. I think he caught a Volkswagen in the parking lot before Skeet Reese confiscated his rod and reel.
Bah-rone has been a fixture on the bass scene since, even though he has been banned from casting anything for several years. In the last few days, he’s laid down the gauntlet on Team Redneck (me and Overstreet). That little gauntlet is not something a couple of good old boys take lightly.
That’s why Overstreet and I are swapping shivers to the dashboard on my new truck.
Our initial plan was to head over to Wheeler, a lake where we have covered several tournaments, but have yet to wet a line, spend a few days relaxing and casting for a change.
Then the Yankee-hippee growled and the whole landscape changed.
Bah-rone is fishing his first tournament, and it’s up to us to beat him to smithereens, just like Gallagher walloping a watermelon.
Bah-rone is already crawfishing, just a little, planning on not weighing any fish, just taking photos of whatever he can find as some sort of proof. As veterans of this game, the measuring stick is and always will be the scales.
So here is the call out: Bah-rone, bring your fish to the scales or forever be ridiculed by Team Redneck. Beat us on the scales, dude. I don’t mind losing. One-day tourneys are not easy for non-local anglers to come out on top. But play the game the way it’s supposed to be played; let the scales decide who has a crocodile mouth or tweety-bird ass.
As far as Team Redneck goes, we don’t mind finishing next to last, as long as you are last.
Two horsemen of the apocalypse are galloping your way.
The engine was built in Alabama.
Final assembly took place in Texas.
The miles on the odometer come from covering a sport I love.
It’s carried me north to the smallmouth waters of Lake Erie that I grew up on.
As far south as the Mexico Border in Texas.
And east to Alabama more times than I can count.
2,500 miles a month, for the past seven years.
A marketing and PR dude for 18 years.
You’d expect me to say good things about the brands I represent.
A make-sense theory, but I do a real bad job of hiding the truth.
Besides, the greatest truth is the fact that never once in seven years, has any angler who graciously paid for and tows with a Toyota, complained to me about the dependability, towing power, or safety of their trucks.
Peace of Mind has no dollar value.
But our odometers tell us how far we’ve been.
How long we’ve been gone.
And carried safely back home.
Even on the short trips.
Like last night along the 35 miles from work, back to her in Skiatook, when it rolled 200,000 miles.
I’ll get a new one soon, but Truth is, this one’s in much the same shape as it was 80 months ago, and very worthy of another couple hundred.