The big ones that got away

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Andy Crawford

Did ya miss a big one?

That’s a question I get a lot at tournaments, especially events where I just miss the Top 12 cut or come close to winning.

I also get that question a lot at sport shows.

Have you ever missed a really big one?

What’s the biggest one you’ve ever lost in a tournament?

Which one hurt the most?

Losing big ones seems to be something anglers are forever fascinated with. I get it. That’s part of the drama of this sport. Missing a huge bite or losing a giant at the boat during the heat of battle with several hundred thousand dollars – or possibly a career – on the line makes for dramatic storylines in tournament fishing.

As pros we try to put the missed opportunities behind us and move forward. But once we get back to weigh in, people always want to know, “Did ya miss any?”

So I thought I’d take a minute to go over a few of the big ones that I’ve missed over the years that still haunt me to this day.

This past April I was at Grand Lake when my granddaughter turned 4 years old. I missed her birthday, and she reminds me of it frequently.

Several years ago I was at Smith Mountain Lake competing in a derby while my daughter was getting ready for prom. I drove like hell to get back home so I could stand next to my wife and we could both see her off to prom together. I didn’t make it home in time. I missed seeing her in that once-in-a-lifetime moment. 

I can recall a very special Father’s Day celebration the family put together for my dad. I heard over the phone it was spectacular, and the only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect was if I had been there with Dad, too. But I missed that one because I was at Kentucky Lake trying to crank up a check.

And, yes, I’ve missed Mother’s Days, too. One in particular I was at Lake Havasu. I tried to send my love to my mom through the mail but the candy melted on the front porch – along with my heart because I couldn’t be there.

Speaking of my mom, she was in a hospital having heart bypass surgery while I was driving to Oneida for a tournament. I really shouldn’t have missed that one, but I did.

I can actually tell you the exact date of the biggest one I ever missed: March 14, 2008. That’s the day I was stuck in a lock on Lake Toho, desperately trying to get back to weigh-in so I could get back home to see my brother, Tony, one more time. As I sat in the lock, the phone rang with the news I couldn’t bear to hear: My brother had passed away that morning after a brutal battle with pancreatic cancer. Yeah, that one was a giant…

When I started pursuing my pro fishing dream 20 years ago, the only big ones I missed were fish. But with fishing, you can look forward to getting another bite to make up for a missed opportunity. In life, however, there are some missed opportunities that you will never get a chance to do over. Those are the real big ones I’ve missed that I will truly never forget.