Everything that can go wrong ...

This is the story about one tournament pro just trying to leave town to go and do his job. Sometimes stuff happens.

I sold my Nitro Z9 a short time ago to a super guy (Steve) in Richmond Virginia. After seeing all his trophy buck mounts and talking hunting, I headed for home. Well, not home exactly. I stopped home very briefly before I was supposed to go and pick up a new Legend Boat. Then I was to be off to the Texas open.

Instead, I found myself at the doctor's office for what I thought was going to be a routine visit, only to find I had to go through a battery of tests, a few frightening moments and finally a surgery. Now, I minimized this chain of events (which lasted over three weeks) only because I don't want to get too graphic or too personal. The bad news is I missed the Central Open. The good news is I will live, and I am healthy!

Now, finally, I can go get my Legend. I'm off to Arkansas! As most of you know, I ran Legend Bass boats for about 4 seasons, then switched to a Z9. So, the big question is why run a Z9 then go back to Legend? Let me start by saying the Z9 was a pleasant surprise! The boat is built solid and very well. I was impressed with the room and fishability. I fished out of it with all three of my boys and we never got in each other's way. The boat is also priced right for all the amenities you get. So why did I go back to Legend? The main reason I went back was because I truly love the boat. It fits my style of driving and lends itself better to my style of fishing. What can I say? I know what I want.

I'm going to backtrack to just before I left for Arkansas. Where I live we get a lot of cold and snow. When the snow accumulates on the roof, the heat escaping from the house as well as the insulating factor of deep snow slowly melts the snow closest to the roof. This melt runs into the gutters and freezes at night. This constant melt and freeze forms icicles.

Well, our house is around 118 years old, so we have more heat escape than a newer home would have. As time goes on, our pretty little icicles grow into enormous 10ft stalactites! Then we get what is known as an ice dam, which basically is a four foot thick ten foot long root system for the icicles.

Well, the day before I left for Arkansas we had some warm weather and our icicles and roof snow were melting at an Indy car pace. That night the crash was so loud my daughter Rose dropped her water and screamed in terror. The 10-foot ice dam came crashing down from the second story roof onto the first floor roof above the TV room so hard that some of the paint and plaster chipped off the ceiling. All I could say was, "Holy #!&%."

Later that night everything froze again, and we began getting more snow. I told Rachel we'll look at the damage when the snow melts off the roof, but I'll take pictures of the broken iceberg on our roof as well as the gutters that came down before I leave for Legend.

The drive down to Legend was uneventful. The weather was good until I arrived at a small town called West Plains, which is where I stay when I don't do the drive in one day. Then the mother of all thunderstorms hit — hail and all. By morning, it was gone.

I had some time to kill before I needed to be at the factory, so I went into the West Plain's McDonalds for coffee. It just so happened I was looking for a discontinued Smithwick Rogue, and since I was in Rogue country, I thought I might go lure hunting.

Not familiar with the town, I asked two older guys if they knew where a tackle shop was. They just started laughing at me! I calmly stated that I was from up north so I might sound funny to them. That is not why they were amused.

Seems they own a tackle business. They asked me to follow them to the shop. Ron and Roy are two retired men who spend their days fishing and selling lures online. They turned out to be a blast, and we killed a lot of time telling stories. They reminded me of Eddy Stags, and his crowd from Texas.

I was delayed one day at Legend because my OSI boat wrap wasn't finished. I called home that afternoon to tell Rachel I would be an extra day. I asked her to look at the forecast for the next two days so I could see what I would be driving into. She told me there would be rain and a lot of it. Rain is better than snow when towing.

I checked into a hotel in Mountain Home, Ark., for the night. My cell phone rang at 6 a.m. It was Rachel. She told me that rain was coming through the ceiling as if we had no roof!

I called my friend Brian (the guy I work construction for when I'm not fishing) and asked him to go over to the house and tarp the roof where the water was coming in. That solved the problem until I could get home.

I stopped at West Plains on my way back from Legend to show Roy and Ron the boat. They thought it was great that I stopped by on my way through. Home here I come!

I drove straight through and arrived home at about 1:30 in the morning. I didn't even look into the TV room. I just went to bed. In the morning, I assessed the damage and made the insurance claim. Then I got on my computer and started transferring all of my Lowrance GPS data into Humminbird GPS data since I'm now running Humminbirds. Everything was going fine until I got a pop-up that said someone was hacking into my computer; if I acted fast I could prevent this by purchasing XP Security protection.

I figured this was BS, so I closed the box and continued working. Up it pops again saying they have now hacked my computer. The XP Security gave me a choice to view the coverage before buying, so I clicked it. Then I closed the box and went back to the job at hand. Two minutes later my computer locked up. I did all the usual stuff to get it back but to no avail. Then the XP thing came up again, so I filled it out and paid for the protection and my computer came back. I finished my GPS stuff and called the computer guy to come out and see if everything was OK.

He informed me that by opening that security scam I not only launched the virus into my system, but they now have my banking information. Great!

The next day, I have the computer guy and the insurance adjuster over at the same time so they can finish at the same time, and I can go to the bank and close all my accounts and open new ones. Only one more errand and I can go to Lake Norman!

I still had a trip to the infamous title bureau. I approached this with extreme caution, I had all the information they wanted last time and more. I had to wait for three people in front of me which took only 15 minutes. Some of the ladies that work there recognized me and said hello. My number was called, so I went to the counter.

The first problem came when the guy behind the window thought "AR" was short for Arizona. He told me I would need an inspection of the boat before he could title it. I informed him the boat was purchased in Arkansas. We then proceeded with the boat title. Yes, he told me, there will be taxes due because I did not pay the tax on the boat. Thirty minutes later I still have no title for the boat or the motor.

He wants an original bill of sale from Mercury, not the one they emailed me. Once again I had to bother Mercury to fax the bill of sale to this place. I told the guy behind the window that since we were waiting for the fax, why don't we title the boat and speed things up. He didn't like the idea. Mercury's fax came, and I had to wait an additional 20 minutes for the man to get it. We begin with the boat. I pay the taxes and fees for that. He starts with the motor, which should be title fees only since I already paid tax on it. He tells me if I want a title for the motor I must pay the tax to Ohio and get the tax back from Mercury that I already paid!

I told him he was crazy and asked why — after all the boats and motors I've purchased — there is this new problem. His answer was too long to write down. I called Mercury Credit and the man at the title place told them the way they do their taxes was wrong, and if I was to get this title they would have to send their tax records to the title agency for review.

Enough! Give me my boat title and I'll take the motor title to your superior. I called his boss and had my title 10 minutes later. I had to shorten the title bureau part because I was in there for over four hours!

Finally, I can leave for Lake Norman. I was leaving a little early so I could break in the motor and work out some of the kinks, if there are any. The morning I was going to leave, we received two feet of snow, so I postponed my trip for a day. I rented a small house on the lake that is very convenient. The first day, I only fished for an hour; I spent the rest of the time learning my Humminbirds and breaking in the motor. In spite of the 45-degree rain all day it was fun to see what the side imaging was capable of. I can start to fish tomorrow.

At about 10 p.m., my friend Troy called me. He's fishing the tournament, too, and we planned to fish together in practice. When the phone rang, I thought it was my alarm clock. Then, realizing it's my cell, I answer it, saying hello at the same time that I pass out. I hear, "Hello ... hello ... Frank!" I stagger to my feet and then run to the bathroom with full-blown food poisoning!

I spent the night on the bathroom floor and half of the next day in bed.

I can't wait to fish!