Elite pros cope with cancellation

Just prior to Thursday’s takeoff at the Bull Shoals Elite Series tournament, the day was canceled due to a major incoming storm. It was sure to bring dangerous conditions for the pros.

The tournament will be extended through Monday, so the pros will have four full days to compete, barring another cancellation. However, the opportunity to fish in rainy, windy weather is gone. With it went a chance of catching shallow, aggressive bass with power fishing tactics.

The pros are understandably disappointed. They were geared up to go fishing. And, not just for the money, the points and the glory. These guys just love to fish. So much so that Ish Monroe may trailer his boat to nearby Norfork or Table Rock to put a bow in his line.

“The nasty weather means the bass will be biting,” Monroe said. “I might even tie on an A-Rig.”

You’d think a cancellation day would present a mental hurdle for the pros to overcome. That appears not to be so. When you practically live on the road, as the Elite pros do, you learn to adapt and roll with the punches. You take every day as it comes and try to make the most of whatever happens.

Another option for Monroe is to find a gym and get in a cardio-workout. Staying in shape is a huge challenge when you’re a tournament gypsy. You have to break a sweat whenever you get the chance.

Monroe is likely to be joined at the gym by John Crews, who is known to stay in superb physical condition.

“I’ll probably find a gym, do a workout and go to bed early,” Crews said. “This storm is no joke. It’s going to get bad today.”

As for the mental aspect of the day off, Crews claims he is “indifferent to things I can’t control.”

Fletcher Shryock, in his second season as an Elite Series pro, doesn’t know what to do with himself today. But, as far as the cancelation is concerned, “I’m good with it.”

One reason for his attitude is that he wasn’t sure how to adapt to a stormy day at Bull Shoals.

“I don’t have the knowledge to take full advantage of it like the other pros do,” “Shryock said. “I’m better prepared here for sunny conditions.”

Edwin Evers is one of the pros that believed he would have put together a big limit today.

“I needed today,” he said. “It would have been a big equalizer. Besides, I just want to go fishing.”

One thing Evers won’t do today is lay around and lose his edge. This is no time to get complacent, he points out.

“I’ll probably catch up on e-mails and take care of the business end of my job.”

Greg Hackney and Scott Rook were waiting for their trailers to be backed down the ramp so they could load their boats and discussing their options.

“What about that Mexican restaurant?” Hackney was saying to Rook. It wasn’t even daylight yet and these guys were already debating lunch options. There surely won’t be any cancellation hangover among those two.

“I was amped today because I was going to break open my right side rod box,” Hackney said. “This was the day to bag one or two 5-pounders and bring in a 20-pound sack.”

Hackney’s right rod box holds a slew of rods rigged with power baits. One of those lures is a buzzbait. He would have started the day running the banks with it.

Tomorrow the weather is predicted to start sunny and windy. The wind will prompt Hackney to have one power fishing rod on his deck, probably a crankbait or jerkbait. The other rods will come out of his left rod locker, which he calls his “grinder box.”

“Today I would have had 15 rods on my deck,” Hackney said. “Tomorrow it’ll be only three or four rods.

Jamie Fralick fully agreed with the decision to take a day off.

“There’s no place to get out of the weather on this lake if things get bad,” he said.

If the wind continues to blow tomorrow, Fralick believes he can catch them power fishing.

“The bite is nowhere as good as last year, but I’m still catching 15 to 20 bass a day,” he said. “If it gets slick, things will get tough.”

Charlie Hartley was disappointed but relieved to take the day off. As much as he loves fishing the Elite Series tour, it’s a pressure cooker for him.

“I’m going trout fishing as soon as I load my boat,” Hartley said. “I caught a beautiful 4-pound brown trout before practice started.”

He caught the trout from the White River, which flows from the bottom of the Bull Shoals dam. It releases cold water from the lake’s bottom that supports a thriving trout fishery. It draws anglers from across the country.

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