Having a great time, wish you were here

After spending the week in upstate New York, I've confirmed that smallmouth bass are like a drug, and I'm addicted. What's more, I don’t want to be cured. I love it up here!

Did I mention that the weather's great? Well, it is. I was talking to Jimmye Sue the other day and she told me the temperature was 103 back home in Texas. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was 78 here. I could get used to these kinds of summers!

Of course, eventually winter rolls around, and I'm not sure I could handle a winter up here.

I want you to know that I've been practicing really hard this week, and that can be tough after a while, but not this week. It's just gorgeous up here, and I can't get enough of it. I even caught a 7-pound smallmouth in practice. I hope to see her again during the tournament, but even if I don't, it was fun catching her.

And what's all the talk about New Yorkers being rude and arrogant? It must be another part of the state because the folks I've met around here have been some of the nicest and friendliest people I've met in a long time — especially the folks here in Waddington. The hospitality has been fantastic. In fact, the folks here remind me of people back home in Texas, but, of course, they have strange accents here.

Just kidding.

I'm writing this just after our practice period ended, so by the time you read it, the tournament will have already started. It's going to be a good one. I know that much. But it's also going to be a very different one for me. I can't tell you the last time I had six spinning rods in my boat for a bass tournament, but that's how many I'll be carrying this week. It might not be out of the ordinary for Mike Iaconelli, but it's pretty much unheard of for me.

This is going to be one of those tournaments where I don't really know where I stand until the first weigh-in is over. There are so many three and four pound bass out there, it's tough to know where the bar is going to be set. Usually, I have a pretty fair idea of what it's going to take to do well. Here, weights are going to be tight and everyone's going to catch fish, so a few ounces can make a big difference.

I think it's going to take 17 pounds a day to finish in the money and 20 pounds a day to make the top 12. The key will be getting a five pounder to bite each day. If you can do that, you'll do well. If you can't, you might struggle.

I plan to spend my time looking for that 5-pound bite. If I do that, I feel I can still catch a limit of three and four pounders.

Up here, five pounders are not rare, but they're not so common that you'll catch them by accident, either. I'm finding them on very specific and very strategic spots. I'll need at least one of them each day to have the kind of performance I want.

Stay tuned. This is going to be an interesting tournament.

I hate to end on a sad note, but I have to say goodbye to an old fishing buddy, Charlie Pack. Charlie passed away on Saturday at the age of 76, and he'll really be missed. If you didn't know him, you missed out. He was the host of "Fishing Country" (a television fishing program in Texas), a world-class crappie angler and an inductee in the Texas Fishing Hall of Fame.

I knew Charlie since the 1980s when we fished some Texas team bass tournaments together. He was a great fisherman, and a joy to share a boat with.

If you're lucky in this life, you have a good many people can call "friend." If you're really lucky, you have a couple you can call "fishing buddy."

Charlie was my fishing buddy, and I'll miss him a lot.

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