Downey’s lucky number is definitely seven

If Bob Downey didn’t have any particular lucky number before, he does now.

Bob Downey

PALATKA, Fla. — If Bob Downey didn’t have any particular lucky number before, he does now. After his son, Jett, was born on April 10th weighing 7 pounds, 13 ounces, and Downey caught a 7-pound bass and a 7 ¼-pounder on the St. Johns River Friday, the number seven has him feeling pretty lucky.

“We caught a few Jett-size bass today,” Downey said after weighing 22-1 Friday. It gave him a two-day total of 38-12, which has him in third place in the MAXAM Tire Bassmaster Elite.

Downey has been on quite the rollercoaster ride since having to leave the Bassmaster Classic in Tulsa after the first day. His wife, Kristi, was experiencing complications in her pregnancy, so Downey rushed home to Detroit Lakes, Minn. There was a time when it looked like it was going to be necessary to take the baby early.

As it happened, Jett was born on April 10th, the day before the Elite Series tournament at Florida’s Harris Chain began.

“I had a decision to make,” Downey said. “Do I make the 25-hour drive from Minnesota just to get there for Day 2 at the Harris Chain after two hours of sleep the last three days? But 25 hours straight through seemed kind of daunting after minimal sleep.”

Downey got to Palatka on Monday night, in time for the abbreviated two-day practice period here. Clearly, it was a smart decision. Downey, 36, is in his fifth season on the Elite Series. His best finish during that time has been second on the St. Johns River in 2022.

“This place has been interesting for me,” he said. “The first two times were bombs (82nd and 87th), then that second place last time and now.”

Downey’s favorite place to fish is the upper Mississippi River, which has some similarities to the St. Johns, minus the tide factor. He caught two giant bags the last time here – 27-4 on Day 1 and 29-3 on Day 4, sandwiched around a one-bass, 6-11 day and a 10-14 limit on Day 3. It left him with 74-0, just short of John Crews winning weight of 75-4.

Downey may have found something to build upon Friday, a secondary spot that produced one of the 7-pounders. He’s not sure why those bass are there, at one end of Lake George, where as he put it “nobody fishes anymore.”

Maybe, most importantly, he’s fishing free and easy after a hectic couple of weeks and with his wife and newborn son healthy and at home.

“I fished free better this week than in the past,” Downey said. “I don’t know if that’s a baby deal, you’re just a little more flying by the seat of your pants this week. Your mind’s a little elsewhere. I don’t know, but it’s working.”