Day 1: Tuesday, Sept. 16
Got in a little early to get the lay of the land. Never been to the UP (Upper Peninsula) before. Beautiful place, friendly people. Lots of "Welcome Bassmasters" signs around town.
The park where they'll hold the weigh-ins and Bassmaster University looks great. Lots of room. Easy access to the water. Homes across the street look like Norman Rockwell paintings.
Weather is really nice. Hope it holds. All the anglers tell me we'll be lucky to fish two days through the scheduled time here (ending Sunday). Can it be that bad?
Day 2: Wednesday, Sept. 17
As a fifth generation Floridian, with "thin" Florida blood to match, I was curious about how cold it gets around here in the winter and asked a local. She said it got to -40 for a few days last year.
That's not a temperature; that's a sci-fi premise.
"Do people go outside in that?" I asked. I thought I was making a joke.
"Yeah, but you have to be careful because your eyes will freeze shut."
The comment didn't bother me as much as her matter-of-factness.
At registration everyone was talking about their practice … and the wind. If it blows from the south, that's bad. Even relatively light wind — stuff we'd call a "nice breeze" back in Florida — can be tough. The waves start all the way down near Green Bay and build until they're unmanageable then push into the bay here. Eight and 10 foot rollers are common, but unfishable.
Day 3: Thursday, Sept. 18
They fished today, and it was pretty good. Quite a few bags over 20 pounds. AOY story is heating up. Hackney holds onto the top spot and Martens, his closest challenger coming in, lost a little ground. Faircloth moved up a lot, but Hackney can control his own destiny if he can move up a few places. Brett Hite leads the derby.
We'll know more tomorrow.
Day 4: Friday, Sept. 19
Well, we don't know any more today because they didn't go out. The wind was blowing from the wrong direction and it was too rough. Now I get what the anglers were telling me. They said this would be a challenging venue at this time of year. They were obviously right.
Some guys played golf. Others relaxed all day or did a little driving around. Some played poker. The AOY dinner was held at a casino near town. They have a poker room with some small tournaments, but I couldn't get there in time to sign up. The cash games are $2/4 and $3/6 NLHE — a little rich for me. If you don't know what those terms mean, I won't explain them here but I would like to invite you to my next game.
The good news is that we have four days to get in three days of competition. The bad news is that by fishing tomorrow we'll have to cancel Bassmaster University and the autograph sessions.
The really bad news is that none of the pros invited me to join the poker game they had away from the casino.
I think they're afraid of me. Yeah, that's it.
Surely the wind will lay down tomorrow.
Day 5: Saturday, Sept. 20
The ugly predictions are coming true. Another day with no competition due to wind and rough seas … and that's what they are here — seas. You can't see/sea the other side of the lake. It's hundreds of miles away. What you can see/sea are miles and miles of whitecaps and big rollers.
The good news is that Bassmaster University took place. The other good news is that I got into one of the casino's poker tournaments and finished 6th out of 42 players. I got short-stacked and had to push with J3s. (Again, if you don't understand, please email me for information about my next game — you're invited!)
The bad news is that the tournament paid four places.
The wind has got to stop blowing. The only poker tournament tomorrow is for points going toward some championship event here in February.
I will not be here in February … I hope.
Day 6: Sunday, Sept. 21
Oh come on! It's ridiculous. The wind was so bad today is was a pain just to walk around town. And it was cold!
Of course the bad news is that competition was cancelled today — again! Anglers and staff are left sitting around, working from their hotel rooms and waiting for better conditions.
My day started with changing my flight home (an additional $200 — thank you United!) and extending my rental car agreement. At least someone is profiting from this.
There needs to be fishing tomorrow! The casino poker room is closed!
Don't they know that the poker room should never be closed when it's too windy to fish?