There is a running joke among the editors of all things Bassmaster (website, television, magazine) when it comes to an Elite event that the weather is always a story.
It’s not a laughing matter. It’s just something that is always a part of any derby and it’s up to us editor types to fight past that and dig a little deeper. So when we gather up and start thinking about how we are going to approach covering each event, the first question is “What are the story lines?”
The first answer is always “the weather.” And it’s always dismissed with a “yeah, yeah. Let’s move on.”
If we’ve learned anything from this Groundhog Day-like series of three consecutive cancellation days, it is the weather is obviously getting tired of being dismissed as a secondary thought.
Weather still drives virtually everything we do. Even if it’s calm and windless, those conditions produce the outcome of the event.
Now we are in a situation where we’ve set on the sidelines for three days and most of the anglers are ready to eat any weather presented to them to get out on the water.
Those of us who aren’t fishing, but are in the anglers’ hip pockets every day with a camera or pen and a pad pretty much feel the same way. But it’s easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.
Buoy gauges on Lake Michigan have promised rolling waves from 8- to 12-feet if we decided our bravado was big enough to take them on. Truth is it sounds a lot more doable sitting on the bank than it would if we were being tossed around in Lake Michigan by waves that could demolish a house, especially if all we have to gain is a few great photos with a better likelihood of bumps, bruises and possible loss of equipment or more.
Despite the frustration and eagerness, Trip Weldon has pretty much stayed the course: Safety comes first and second and third, then comes everything else.
We will eventually crown a Bassmaster Toyota Angler of the Year (maybe it really should go to the weather) and the Bassmaster Classic field will eventually be set, even if we are still here when the first snow falls.
We are here to have a derby and a derby we will have.
There will be some hearts broken and some moments of jubilation. One of these guys will walk away with the AOY title, and despite where the final event is being held; the weather would have had a bearing on who wins it.
It just so happens that this weather has kept us off the water. The impact is the same, regardless. Ask Aaron Martens how effective his drop shot is on a high-pressure, windless day. Ask Greg Hackney how much the sun and wind helped him at Lake Cayuga a few weeks ago. And ask Todd Faircloth to name how many fish he caught this season when the wind created the perfect conditions for the perfect cast and perfect bite. Ask Kevin VanDam what a cold front did to him on Lake Dardanelle.
The weather has helped (or hurt) every angler in this field since the first minute of competition on Lake Seminole back in March. The weather, along with the skills and experience of every angler in the field, has shaped the field to what it is now.
It obviously continues to shape how the rest of this will play out.
Once the AOY Championship is over (hopefully by Thanksgiving) there will be those who will complain and those who will play Monday-morning quarterback and will have all the answers with the benefit of hindsight.
Regardless, we will have taken part in the longest two-day derby in the history of B.A.S.S. and in a year or so and for decades later, we will sit around and say, “Remember when we used to insist the weather was a joke.”