Over the course of a season, we all have those special days that we remember the most. My most memorable day of the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series season happened in October at Santee Copper. It was tough fishing at Santee when we visited in the fall, like we learned it is in a lot of places across the South. I had a good tournament and made the Top 10, but in the seven days I fished there that week — three practice, four competition — I only managed to catch a limit of keepers one day.
Fortunately, on Day 2 of the tournament when I boated that limit, it included the biggest bass I caught in 2020 — a 9-7 buffalo that was the biggest fish of the event. That fish really went a long way in carrying me into the Top 10. Frankly, it was an important catch for my entire season.
I caught the fish around lunchtime, flipping a mat, which was a cool way to catch it. I remember how it ran out of the mat, jumped once and then made its way to my waiting hand. The most memorable part of that day happened after I caught the fish however.
Up to that point in the day, I had only caught two fish. I was really starting to feel the pressure to get a few more bites so I would survive the tournament and stay in the hunt for the Bassmaster Classic. Once I boated that fish, I knew I had cashed a check and would be fishing again on Day 3. The pressure was off, and I was able to have a little more fun the rest of the day.
Coincidentally, Seth Feider, one of my roomates, was fishing the same area. After a tough first day, Seth was having a better second day as well. He was in a good mood, and after I caught that big fish, so was I. We were within talking distance when I caught it so when he asked how big it was. I told him it was at least a 7-pounder.
Being from Canada, I don’t get to see fish like that very often so I had no idea what the exact weight was. I just knew it was a big fish. I didn’t weigh it because I knew it would be coming back to weigh-in with me. I just knew I needed to get two more bites, so I got back to fishing moments after dropping her in the livewell.
Feider and I started fishing towards each other, and as we got closer he said he also had a bass over 7 pounds in his livewell that he caught earlier in the day. We were both in good spirits, and I threw a friendly wager at him. "Do you want to bet $100 on who has the biggest fish?” I knew he would go for it and sure enough he said he was in. We went our separate ways and would soon find out who had the bigger fish.
When I dropped that big fish into the weigh-in bag I figured I was in good shape. It was big. When I brought my bag up to the scales I was informed by Dave Mercer that Feider had let him know about our bet and that he had the big fish up to that point, a 7-10 or something like that. That's a big fish. Trip Weldon dropped my fish on the scale, and Mercer called out the weight at 9-7. I was pretty happy about the weight and the whole situation really. I was in the Top 10 and in contention to win the tournament, but I was really looking forward to having bragging rights back at the house that night.
Feider was already back at the house when I returned, and before I was even out of the truck he was chirping at me. “I’m not even paying you … ’Oh, I got a 7-pounder too.’ … you played me” Feider said. He wasn’t happy with me. I told him I honestly didn’t realize the fish was that big and about an hour later he paid up. We were all good later that night, but I’m sure I’ll be reminded of my low-balling for the next while.
The bet happened as I said earlier because we were both having a good day and it was all for fun. I’m sure at some point in 2021 we’ll do it again, and he can win his money back.
As much as we take competing on the Elite Series seriously, we try to have some fun where we can along the way.