What we do on the off days

Over the past several years on the Bassmaster Elite Series, there are always one or two days throughout each season that are canceled or postponed because of weather. Growing up, and I think all of us can relate to this, if it was a tournament day, we went fishing regardless of the weather. It was like tournament days, we were going fishing, no matter what. High winds, storms, snow (at home in Canada), I’ve fished competition days in all of it. I can remember fishing events on the Great Lakes growing up and being in waves so big that you couldn’t see the boat next to you, only a cast or two away.

Recently, Day 1 at the Harris Chain Elite event was postponed due to high winds and the chance of severe storms. As anglers, I think we all understand that tournament director Lisa Talmadge is always in a tough position when we have severe weather. There is a liability in sending us out in bad weather. While all of the anglers on the Elite Series are experienced running boats in big water and windy conditions, we have no control over lightning, tornados and any other bad stuff that can occur.

We also have to consider the marshals who are riding in our boats and the camera operators who are riding every day. It’s not fair to put them in a tough position because we want to fish in nasty conditions. At a place like the Harris Chain, there is also the chance of a tree falling in the canals that anglers might be fishing. During the postponed day, my wife Shelby was driving in our truck to do some shopping and a large tree branch fell on the truck in the middle of the road. There wasn’t a lot of damage to the truck, but it damaged the wrap.

When we do get these off days, what do we do? I get messages from friends at home every time it happens, wondering what I’m up to. Often, we’ll go fishing, especially if it’s just a wind day. If we can find a small lake where we can hide out from the wind, we’ll go see if we can catch a few. Last year at the Lake Champlain tournament, we had a day canceled because of wind, so Seth Feider, cameraman Brian Eavey and I went to a small lake nearby and caught some smallmouth. A lot of us on the Elite Series are good friends, but we don’t often get the chance to get in the boat together. Sometimes these days give us an opportunity to share a boat.

At the Harris Chain event, I was sharing a place for the week with Jason Christie, and we talked about going fishing on the postponed day, but we never ended up getting after it. To be fair, it was extremely windy, and then we did get some strong afternoon storms, so postponing the day was the right decision. We ended up getting some work done on our tackle, and I took the opportunity to get caught up on some computer work. I’ve been fishing a bunch over the past few weeks so the day of rest was welcome.

If we don’t go fishing, there have been other outings planned on these postponed days in the past. Obviously, it depends on the location, but I’ve hooked up with other anglers to hit Top Golf. We all get to see how bad anglers are at golfing! Sometimes we’ll get together for a lunch outing somewhere and spend the afternoon visiting. Other times, it’s nice to just relax and rest up, especially in a situation like this one where we’re going straight into fishing at the St. John’s River the next week.

While I was a little disappointed when the message came in that we wouldn’t be going fishing on Day 1 at the Harris Chain, only because I had practiced for the strong winds, the right call was made. Live to fish another day!