My story goes back to a tournament in 2006 on Lake Okeechobee. Guys were getting some good limits, so my 11-0 limit the first day didn't really help me. I think I was in the high thirties. The second day, I went out and got 12-something, and moved up to 17th, barely making the cut. During day three, the weather was terrible. The wind was howling, and no one was getting any fish, except for me it seemed. I weighed in a little over 17 that day, and was in first place by 2 1/2 pounds going into the last day.
Day four started off slow, but in the afternoon the weather started to change, and everyone left the area I was fishing for some reason. I felt comfortable there because it was a full moon, so I hung around and started to blast 'em. Since I was leading by nearly three pounds, I thought I was sitting pretty. I thought I had it sewn up.
The smallest fish I had in the tank the fourth day was a little over 2 pounds. Then I laid into a 3-pounder to add some weight. I brought him up to the boat, but when I went to flip him in, he got off.
I thought, "No big deal. I can't imagine anyone can catch me with 18 already in the tank, so what's a few ounces?" After all, I only would have gained 6 or 7 ounces by culling my 2-7.
I went the rest of the day without a keeper and drove on back to the weigh-in to collect my trophy.
As the weigh-in went on, I was doing great. But then this guy who was using this new bait — a Chatterbait — beat me by a single ounce. One stinking ounce! I was stunned. That three that got off would've put me over the top by several ounces. That guy's new-fangled bait won the thing for him!
This was when the Chatterbait first got popular. It was winning left and right! I was one of the early casualties of the Chatterbait. If I recall correctly, he passed me from about 10th place, not even second.
I wound up getting $12,000 that day, while the Chatterbait guy took home $75,000. That 3-pounder I thought nothing of swam off with $63,000 of mine. That's one of the most brutal tournament experiences I've ever had.