COLUMBIA, S.C. — A prayer for Jennifer: Saturday morning on the takeoff dock, a man in a red shirt stood close to the edge, clutching plastic plates in his left hand.He said he was Garry Frick from Indianapolis, Ind., and that he had been a Marshal on Friday, riding out with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Lee Sisson.Saturday, Frick turned out to show his support for Sisson, a first-year Elite pro who had made his second top-50 cut of the year. Frick grabbed what was available — throwaway dinnerware — to create simple hand-written messages to hold up so Sisson would see them.
Plate No. 1 read: “Lee, Good Luck!”“Friday, when I got in the boat and sat down, I could tell there was something weighing on him heavy,” Frick said. “He said, ‘I’m kind of torn about being here or home in Winter Haven, Florida.’ I askedhim what he meant, and he began to tell me the story.”Sisson, as Frick related it, was a new grandfather, the baby his son’s. The child was born weighing 2 1/2 pounds.“Lee said they had to take the child early because the 36-year-old mother, Jennifer, had been diagnosed with a recurrence of brain cancer,” Frick related. “Lee said he wanted to go home, but he wanted to try to win $10,000 to give to the new parents.”Sisson began the day in 40th place, well inside the top-50 “money” cutline that pays $10,000 through 49th place.Plate No. 2 read: “One fish at a time.”
“He didn’t have a fish in the boat until about 10:30, and he was getting a little bit worried. But then he started figuring it out and got a limit, but you could see he was still worried about what was happening at home,” Frick related.
Frick readily related to medical troubles. He had recovered last year from a broken neck, an accident that happened when he was wade fishing. In January he fell into a diabetic coma in his home during a winter storm. A firefighter neighbor discovered him after four days, near death, said Frick.“I know what I went through, and I’m OK now, so it’s no comparison to what Lee and his loved ones are going through. I’m the lucky one, and I wanted to show my support for Lee out there fishing today. He told me that if I had one prayer to spare, that I could send it to Jennifer.”
Plate No. 3: “One prayer for Jennifer.”Rescue by Elite pro garners attention: When media outlets around Columbia, S.C., learned how an Elite pro helped rescue a man and a 2-year-old Thursday on Lake Murray, they wanted the story.
Suddenly Elite pro James Niggemeyer and his Day One marshal, Russ Sorrells of Lancaster, S.C., were on TV and being interviewed by various area print media. Bassmaster.com’s own Don Barone wrote about the incident.
The next day, Niggemeyer did not make the cut to fish Saturday“I guess this one’s over for me,” he said.
“But it’s not over for that child,” a reported said.“That is what’s important here, isn’t it?” Niggemeyer replied.
A fluke catch: Many Elite pros are skipping flukes on Lake Murray this week, trying to key in on the pattern of bass busting spawning blueback herring, the lake’s prolific forage.Marty Robinson, using a double fluke rig, hooked two bass on it Thursday at the same time. He fought them long enough to see both of the fish.
“One was bigger than the other, about 4 pounds,” he said. “They pulled against each other, and the heavier fish won.”
If neither fish had won the tug-of-war, Robinson would have fared much better on the first day’s leaderboard. Still, he went into Day Three in 11th place.Robinson, local favorite from Lyman, S.C., has fished Lake Murray for years.
Sister support: Jason Williamson’s sisters sang the national anthem Friday at the Evan Williams Bourbon Carolina Clash. The 21-year-old twins, Kayla and Nicole, often team up to perform, and sang at the 2008 version of the Clash as well as at other Elite tournaments near their Aiken, S.C. home.They sung at the Clarks Hill event of the Elite Series in May 2010, which Jason Williamson won.“So it was really special that time,” Nicole said. “We come to see Jason whenever we can,” Kayla added.The sisters said they have performed together all their lives. They began to enter gospel competitions when they were 14. Now they are college students aiming for medical careers.Williamson (the Elite pro) was in 18th place after two days.Lure-shy: “It’s all about change here. If you don’t get that first bite, you have to keep changing (lures), show the fish what maybe nobody else has shown them — or at least that nobody’s shown them in the past 30 minutes.” — Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C.