Valerie’s Oneida Lake Diary

It’s nearly 10 o’clock Friday night. I’m sitting in the dark at a picnic table at the Oneida Shores campground in New York. I can see my breath. It’s supposed to dip into the 30s tonight.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am that we brought a heater for the tent.

I’m here with my dad to fish a Bassmaster Open tournament. My dad is Mark Hicks. He writes about fishing and hunting for a living, and he loves to fish Bassmaster tournaments.

 love to come to the tournaments my dad fishes. He’s fishing this one as a boater. I’ll be fishing the tournament as a nonboater.

This will be the first time I’ve fished a bass tournament of any kind. I’m excited, but I’m also more than a little intimidated.

When I fish with dad for fun, I kick back and relax. If they’re not biting, I sunbathe on the back deck.

I’m comfortable with a spinnerbait and a buzzbait, and I’ve done pretty well drop shotting. Beyond that, I have a lot to learn.

Heck, my dad even ties my knots for me when we go fishing. Isn’t that what daddies are for? And boyfriends, too?

I like being spoiled, but I’m not a sissy. I’ve noodled catfish (after drinking a few beers). That’s something my dad said he would never do.

Since my dad writes about fishing, my biggest concern about the tournament is that I’ll look foolish. Dad tells me to relax and have fun. Easy for him to say.

Chris Bowes, the tournament director, is another worry. I’ve known him for five years and we’ve become good friends. I’m not sure what to expect from him on stage if I get to weigh in some bass.

I slept most of the way on the nine-hour drive to Oneida from Ohio. I graduated from nursing school a week ago. The final 18 months was a grind, but now I’m a registered nurse.

I thought I’d feel more relieved after graduation. I don’t miss all the exams, but I’ve got some major career decisions to make.

It’s time to move on to the next stage of my life. That will have to wait one more week. I’ve got some bass to catch first at Lake Oneida.

Also By This Author