"Chances lost are hopes torn out pages ... "
Dateline: The soul of the lake
All I have ever asked for.
Is a chance.
I think it's all.
We ever want.
All of us.
If we get a chance, what we do with it, is ours. Here you go, go for it, win, or, lose, here's your chance.
And I'll take that.
Just put me in the game coach. Just give me the ball. Just give me the sign to swing.
Then it's up to me.
And I'll take that.
Doesn't matter whether you believe in me or not.
Believe, in me.
Chance, is the bungee jump of life.
Strap in, step off. Go for it. Life, is in the freefall. Scary for some. Exhilarating for others.
I have taken chances and had the crap knocked out of me. Blown up, spit out, been the bug, not the windshield.
Crawled back home, climbed into bed, pulled the covers over my head and assumed the fetal position. Hugged my wife. Cried in the bathroom. Threw two typewriters out a window (one per senior semester in college), and a portable mouse into a lake (Wednesday). Lost a house.
Moved the kids in and out of four or five states.
Chasing dreams. Chasing words.
Right or wrong.
I do it because I cannot, NOT, do it. Something is guiding, something is pushing, me. I wish I knew. What. Pushing me.
But at some point I pull the covers back, unlock the bathroom door, go buy another typewriter, or mouse, and do it again.
My wife Barb, God love her, knows the look, knows the pacing, knows the feel of the edge I teeter on, knows when it starts all over again.
The dream chase. The word chase. The chase that led me here to writing about inside the outside while being an indoor guy.
A chance. Doesn't matter whether you believe in me, or not. I do.
Like it or not, I'm a swing-for-the-fence kind of guy. On a three-two count, I'm going to cock one shoulder, dig into the dirt, twist my grip tight.
And in the flash of the twirl of the bat, live, LIFE. Hit or miss, I gave it the best shot I had.
As you would.
Success lies in the freefall of the bungee jump. In the baseball in the air between the wall, or catcher's mitt.
I tell you all this, bleed db, because there are people out here on the Elite tour who DO THIS EVERY DAY.
The anglers and the families behind them LIVE in CHANCE.
Every mile on the truck/trailer/camper ... chasing, chance.
Every spray over the bow, every boat plant into a wave, every cast ... chasing, chance.
The chance to be the best. Even when they are, the best.
There would be a field of none, if not for those who chased chances.
On Clear Lake I saw a man take to the water in a borrowed boat and borrowed tackle, all for just a chance to win.
On Clear Lake I saw a man, and the Marshal in his boat, lay down flat on the deck to clear a bridge, all for just a chance to win.
And this is why ... this is the reason people chase chances ... why you can't just coast ... can't leave the bat on your shoulder ... can't NOT want to have the ball:
"Because db, you know what sucks worse than losing, worse than losing is NOT EVEN TRYING TO WIN," says Kevin Short.
The next time I pull the covers up over my head I will think of my time here at Clear Lake.
The stories of those who took to the water.
And chased chance.
Because they believed.
And I will get up out of bed.
To chase chance.
"...chances are when said and done
Who'll be the lucky ones
Who make it all the way ... "
Chances: Kevin Short and Steve Kennedy
"db, don't make it out like it's the first time it's ever been done, it's not, we do it when we have to," says Kevin Short.
Have to ... take chances.
I'm going to be brutally honest here. After day one of the tournament Kevin Short had one fish, 3-pounds 2-ounces, 92nd place out of 93. He's 26 POUNDS or so behind the leader, Byron Velvick, who is sitting in first place with 29 pounds of bass.
On paper, K-Pink (my name for my friend) has NO CHANCE.
Do me a favor, whoever it is that writes down the judgmental stuff that is "On Paper," STOP IT, tear the damn thing up, you don't know what you are talking about.
You "On Paper" me I'm going to take that paper and put it somewhere not to pleasant for you.
K-Pink never read the paper.
Nor did Steve Kennedy, who was sitting in the 63rd spot, 16 pounds behind the leader.
No Chance ... has no chance with these two.
They both saw a shallow inlet that opened into a wider body of water, between them and the chance of larger fish stood a footbridge that barely cleared the water.
Steve Kennedy went first, then K-Pink, I'll shut up, let K-Pink tell the story:
"The first time I tried to get through I pulled up to the bridge and the top part of my motor hit it, and wouldn't go through."
"So to stop it from scrapping the motor I took the drain plug out of the live well and started pumping water into the boat ..."
INTO THE BOAT, pretty much the opposite of what you want to do while IN the boat.
" ... probably pumped 70 to 80 gallons of water into the BassCat, and that added ballast to drop the back of the boat lower to clear the bridge ..."
But then ....
"... we still had to clear the bow ... so the marshal and I got up front, laid down on the deck, and I reached up under the bridge and pulled the boat under and along it with my hands ..."
K-Pink is telling me about this in his camper while dipping Oreo cookies in a coffee cup filled with milk.
" ... when we got under it we just started fishing again."
When you watch the video of this, shot by K-Pink's wife, Kerry (K2 as I call her), and Steve Kennedy's (who did the same thing as well) wife, Julia, hit the button on the thing that blows it up to full screen and you'll be able to see K-Pink and his marshal move in the boat to get the clearance and see them come out the other side laying flat on their back.
And this is what I asked: "Why?"
"Pretty sure there were some good size fish back there and it was worth the chance."
Doesn't really matter if there were good size fish back there or not.
What matters is what they did.
Took the chance.
Played to win, regardless of the odds of doing so. Because if you don't take the chance, you'll never win.
And just coasting through, stinks.
And not winning, stinks.
But never taking the chance, never taking the chance. That's a stink that never goes away.
A smell that never comes off.
Chances: Jared Lintner
I don't care where Jared Lintner finishes in this tournament.
The only thing I care about is that he started it.
By doing so, he gets a page in my book of personal heros.
Jared, and Team Lintner.
I'm not going to spend much time re-hashing stuff I just hashed a day or so ago in the story: "The Boat With No Name."
But if you read that story you too will understand why just starting this tournament ... wins.
And if there is no other reason to take chances, it is based on this. In times of personal adversity ... his truck, trailer and boat WERE TOTALLED in an accident coming to Clear Lake ... the stuff the man makes a living with, not to mention the fact his 9-year-old-son was in the truck with him when the accident occurred and the mind games that can have on you ... with all of that ... the man still played.
Swung for the fences with a borrowed bat.
While he could have stayed on the shore, and no one would have blamed him for doing so, Jared took to the water.
While others wondered, Jared believed, in himself.
And took the chance. Here's Jared:
"If I didn't go out there and fish on Monday, I may have been done, may never had come back, never. The worst thing I would have done was to NOT go out, I would have been a basket case, I had to take the chance."
So his first day out after the accident, barely 24 hours from being sent spinning out of control and ending up in a ditch, he picks up one of his rods and makes a cast, and HALF THE ROD FLIES INTO THE LAKE, shattered from the accident.
"db ... this is what I do ... I don't come out here to make a cut, or to cash a check, I come out here to win. But the accident, the accident sure put life in perspective ... I'm blessed to be here. Blessed."
And while he is telling me that he is rubbing the head of the child at his feet and caressing the child he's holding in his arm.
Jared towers over me, a tall guy who keeps most of his speaking to himself. I watched as he stood at the weigh-in tank constantly adjusting his sunglasses while tapping his right gray and red striped sneaker.
Waiting to see if he will make it into the final cut to 12, waiting to see if he would fish one more day, fish to win the tournament on Sunday.
A week to the day that Jared and his son JC, truck and boat, went spinning off into a ditch, and possibly the end of a career.
And this is the last thing he said to me before he took to the stage.
"db, how could I not have tried, how could I not have taken that chance."
As I walked away, I knew the answer to that question.
Jared couldn't have.
The full-out cut at the fastball, is built in.
Wanting the buzzer-beater shot at the hoop, is built in.
The leap into the air to cross the goal line, is built in.
As I crossed the Clear Lake parking lot, heading back to the hotel room, I took one last look back at the Bassmaster stage and the large video screen off to the side. And watched as the leaderboard, the top 12 names, rolled down the screen.
Then I walked on down N. Main Street of Lakeport, heading home to my family for a while before heading back out and picking up the tour at Smith Mountain in Virginia.
During the four-block walk I called home, and Barb told me about her day, and I said I wished I was there, and she asked about this story and I said I thought it was OK, and then she asked, "How'd Jared do."
And on a crooked sidewalk in front of an organic coffee house, my voice cracked when I said ...
"He's fishing tomorrow babe, he's fishing tomorrow. On Sunday."
"Chances won't escape from me
Chances are only what we make them
And all I need ... "
Five For Fighting
Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.