Spending time away from home can be one of the most challenging parts of a professional fisherman’s life, but it’s nice when the tournament’s host city makes you feel like your home. That’s how I felt during the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest on Lake Fork.
This is probably the most pressured lake in the country and people come from all over to fish it. But even with the constant attention their lake receives, the local residents really opened up to us and took care of us.
The thing that’s most impressive is that the town of Lake Fork is not the typical large hometown that we’re used to visiting, but the community just opened up and made our visit very enjoyable. People were just so nice and so caring all week, this was definitely one of the top two or three experiences in my four years on the Elites.
Being on the road is part of what we do. Sometimes, we go places where people don’t know why we’re there. But the people around Lake Fork know how special their lake is, and they knew how to treat us to make us feel welcome.
I imagine that, with the amount of visitors Lake Fork gets on an annual basis, it could get old meeting new people, but that just didn’t seem to be the case for the people we met at his event. It’s clear that they know how special their lake is and what it means to their community. They really showed their pride and their desire to share this special place.
Along with that kind hospitality, Lake Fork is also a safe and secure area. With as much equipment as we fishermen take with us on the road, feeling safe is a big deal. Sleeping peacefully without getting up to check on your boat, your truck and your tackle is a big deal for tournament fishermen. Each night in Lake Fork, I slept without worry because the folks around that lake made sure we didn’t have anything to worry about.
All of this really made a big impact on my week because I had one of the worst tournaments I’ve had in the last several years. I actually had a good practice, but I couldn’t make the right adjustments during the tournament.
Usually, after having a bad tournament, you’re not in the best mood, but the people of Lake Fork clearly understood the ups and downs of tournament fishing and they knew how to make me feel better. Even though I didn’t have the best tournament, I feel like Lake Fork showed out and the people around there showed out.
I really was amazed with the level of of hospitality we received during this event. People wanted to buy our dinner, buy our gas; they just let us know they cared that we were there.
We have a lot of new faces on the Elite Series this year, and I think it was very encouraging for many of them to see how many of the places we visit treat us so well. One the guys said, “For a bunch of rednecks, we sure got treated well.”
I think the big winner from the Lake Fork Elite was the community. They showed us great hospitality, and we got to show off their lake.
It was a win-win.