Traveling and fishing around our country has its challenges

I’ll tell you my story of traveling and fishing last week. Perhaps it’ll give you some encouragement when things don’t exactly go your way on your next fishing trip.

I left Columbus, Ohio, with visions of sugar plums in my head. The trip to Toledo Bend was uneventful until I hit the Arkansas state line. A woman pulled up alongside me and pointed repeatedly at my trailer and boat. I thought she was telling me how neat I looked traveling down the highway. I looked back at her with a feeling of confidence. After all, my Ranger is pretty cool.

That feeling didn’t last long. What I saw when I glanced back at my “cool” rig was that my hub had burned out and my tire was on fire. When I say on fire I mean just that, thick black smoke and flames.  

I pulled over and started a search for my fire extinguisher. Within a minute or two, a volunteer fireman stopped, told me to get out of the way, grabbed my fire extinguisher and put it out. Once everything was under control, or so I thought, I limped off the highway at the next exit.

I found a small store and gas station that doubled as a bus stop and an auto parts store. After stripping one of the lugs — the fire had welded the lug nut to the threaded stud — I bought a smaller socket and pounded it over the stripped lug nut.

That sort of worked but I’m not very big and so I couldn’t break it loose. The fellow in the auto parts store was much bigger. He finally broke it loose. I was able to take the wheel off and head toward the tournament with a three-wheel trailer.

The service crew at the ramp was very helpful. My trailer was back to good health in no time. I went fishing. My practice was uneventful.

Once the tournament started, I thought I was in pretty good shape — until I decided to snap some weeds and green goop off my popper. Being too lazy to take it off with my fingers, I whipped the rod over my head and snapped the lure forward. I looked like a real pro until...

As the darn thing came forward, the hooks ripped through my ear. A couple of them stuck in my head. We (my Marshal) cut the lure loose. I was able to fish the rest of the day with the hooks still in my head. (You’d be surprised how much a head wound bleeds. It gets really nasty after a while.)

Once the weigh-in started, my fellow pros showed real sympathy. Most of them told me to go to the front of the line, weigh my fish and get my head taken care of. Shaw Grigsby was especially helpful. He examined my head with great care and finally said he wouldn’t take it out. He said I needed professional medical people.

I pleaded with him to pull the hooks out but it was to no avail. He simply refused. Finally, out of desperation, I went to the medical people at the tournament. They wouldn’t do it, either. They referred me to the local emergency room.

Next week, I’ll tell the rest of the story — yes, there’s more — and clue you in on Tommy Biffle’s offer to help.

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