Earlier this week Randy Howell, Jeff Kriet, Hank Cherry and I had a chance to fish with some fans. They were selected by Livingston Lures in their "Fish with a Pro" contest.
For us it was the opportunity to share a boat with a new friend. We had no idea what to expect from the winners —they may or may not have been a great fisherman, but they all appreciated the sport enough to sign up for the contest. It turns out we had some good sticks with us. I was lucky enough to fish with Kris Dew from Mississippi.
We had dinner the night before we went fishing, and Erick Arnoldson of Livingston announced that the event would also be a contest. We all had some fun talking a little trash to each other the rest of the night. All lures were fair game, but the biggest bass caught on a Livingston bait was worth a bonus $100 for the non-pro.
While the fishing on Oneida Lake wasn't as great as it might have been, it was still excellent. All four teams brought in limits and all four limits were over 15 pounds. Kris and I won the contest and caught the biggest bass on a Livingston lure. That fish weighed almost 4 pounds and came on a Livingston DM 14 crankbait. It was close though. Hank Cherry and his partner Brandon Pedigo got into some frog fish and gave us a run for our money. I think when the scales came to rest, we had 3/100 of a pound more than they did.
Randy Howell and his partner Brent Malone took an early lead when they boated about 15 fish in 20 minutes, including what we hear was a double hook up for Malone and a single fish for Howell at the same time.
We took it slow and steady and worked on some areas I fished last year in the final Elite Series event. Kris caught his first smallmouth bass ever, and it was a good one. That fish went over 3 pounds and gave him a taste of what bronzeback fishing is all about. It may have been his first smallmouth, but it was evident Kris spends quite a bit of time on the water down in Mississippi. In fact, all four fans were quality anglers, and Brandon Pedigo might just be fishing next to me at Guntersville next year in the Bassmaster Classic.
He's fishing the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship at Lake Dardanelle later this fall (Oct. 24-26), where he can qualify for the Classic. I'd like to wish him the best of luck at that event.
Over dinner, we had the chance to share fishing stories. Since the four fan anglers were from Alabama, California, Mississippi and Oklahoma, there was plenty of territorial bragging going on.
It was nice of Livingston Lures to put this together and give us the opportunity to fish with some great guys. I think we all had a good time, and I'm sure we'll keep in touch for years to come.
I'd also like to offer a special thanks to the Feng family for allowing us to stay at their place near Oneida and to Mike and Mikey Jr. Pikulinski for helping out with camera boats and organizing the whole trip to New York.
Everywhere we go in upstate New York we come across great people, and the Fengs and the Pikulinskis are perfect examples of the quality people we've met there.