At first thought, I couldn't come up with anything when asked if I had a "one that got away" story, but then I remembered the second day of the 2008 Elite Series tournament on Lake Murray, the Carolina Clash.
During that event, I had three or four main lake points I was working in a rotation, and I hadn't caught a keeper during the first half of the day. The pattern to be on was the blueback herring, and everyone was trying to keep a step ahead of them so they could be there when the bass showed up. I had made a rotation of the points I was working, and while I was on the third rotation a 4-pounder blew up not too far from the boat. I was using a sub-surface swimbait, though I can't recall the exact one, so I threw it into the action and caught my first keeper, a 2-pounder. I brought it in, and just as soon as I tossed it in the livewell, another fish blew up. Before I could get my bait back into action, I looked up to see my co-angler toss his bait right at the commotion.
The cast really wasn't that great, about 15 feet from the blow-up. It was pretty far from where I would have thrown it, but it was close to where I was just working. He was fortunate enough to have the same exact bait I was using, too. Since it was borderline, he agreed not to move it until I tossed where the activity was. The fish were blowing up along the boat, and were moving towards the back, so he was allowed to throw there, but it was pretty close. As I was working it and his bait slowly sunk, I watched as the fish came up to the surface with the co-angler's bait in its mouth.
That fish weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce.
He went on to win big fish. I, on the other hand, weighed a limit with three 2-pounders and missed the Top 12 cut by 1-12.
I've known that guy for a few years as a co-angler, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the rest of the day was sort of awkward. I don't fault him entirely, though. He's a competitor too, and it's hard to control yourself when that sort of thing is going on, so I give him the benefit of the doubt and believe it was a heat of the moment thing that lost it for me.
Overall I'm very happy with how I finished in points this year, but you can't help but wonder what would have happened if one or two specific things either didn't happen or went differently. At the same time, you can't dwell on these things too long or you'll never be able to move on.