I’m in Oklahoma prefishing on Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees for this year’s Fish and Chips combination tournament. There’ll be two days of fishing and two days of poker. It’s really a pretty neat deal. Everyone has to bring a partner. I brought my friend Dan Welch. He’s a good bass fisherman — fished a lot of B.A.S.S. events over the years.
One of the things that I like about this event is that you get to fish with your peers. Fishing with other pros is a great way to learn and expand your knowledge of new techniques and new ways of thinking. But in our business that doesn’t happen very often. We almost always fish by ourselves.
Last week is a great example of what I’m talking about. When I was fishing with Mark Zona, I learned a whole new way of fishing a tube. I’d never seen anything like it, and I’m here to tell you it works. I don’t want to steal his thunder by talking specifics but I will tell you to watch the show next January. I’ll post something about it when we know the exact date and time it’s going to air.
I’ve said more than once that one of the best ways to improve your bass fishing is to fish with guys who know as much or more than you do. It’s like a free seminar on the water. Do it every chance you get. Don’t worry about him or her putting it on you. Worry about learning. You’ll be better off for it.
Now, let’s get to the exciting stuff. I’m embarking on a new adventure, one that’ll expand my fishing and give me the opportunity to do something different on the water.
There’s a sailfish tournament out of Islamorada, Fla., and I’ll be there. That’s right, I’ve decided that there aren’t enough bass tournaments to keep me busy all year and so, in my spare time, I’ll be doing a little saltwater fishing. It’d be a serious understatement to say I’m excited about this new fishing opportunity.
Sailfish tournaments are different from bass tournaments. As I understand things — this is subject to change — you fish on a time basis and landing one means you grabbed the leader. It’s strictly catch and release. They die if you bring them into the boat, even for a minute, so that’s never done. I guess they’re really fragile.
This will be a new experience for me. As of right now I don’t know much about catching them but I expect to learn as time goes along. I’ll keep you posted. Anyway, it’s a new chapter in Hartley’s fishing adventures.
Of course, fishing for black bass will always be my first priority. I’ve spent most of my adult life chasing them. I have no intention of quitting now. It’s just that life’s short. I want to cram everything into it that I can.