By Steve Graf
Today I’m writing this article based on my personal experience as a tournament angler. Over the years, I’ve come across a lot of anglers who have always talked about how they should be fishing tournaments because they “ALWAYS” catch fish every time they go fishing. All I have to say to these anglers….”You’re a liar!” These same people will try and tell me how good they are as a bass fishermen and that if they fished in tournaments, they would probably be standing in the winner’s circle at the end of the day. To these same anglers, I say, “Put your money where your mouth is!”
I came across one such angler one day on Toledo Bend, who in his mind, was the best angler on the lake or maybe even the greatest angler of all time! During one of my practice sessions on the Bend, this guy came up to me at the boat ramp. While loading my boat he eased over to me and proceeded to talk about how many fish he caught that day and that he quit counting at 100. I’m not sure why, but for some reason, some anglers feel the need to exaggerate how they caught 100 fish in a day. In reality, they probably really caught about 30 to 35….not 100. If you think about how many casts you make in a day, to catch 100 basses in a day is about 1 bass every 4 casts. That would be an awesome day by anyone’s standards and a day all anglers dream about.
Now during my conversation with this angler at the ramp, he asked me if I was getting ready for a tournament. My answer was yes, and he said that he would probably win it if he decided to fish it. My response to him, with a sense of sarcasm of course, was that if he was on that many fish, he’d be crazy not to fish the tournament. And, that I might as well just give him my entry fee! This is what we call baiting someone!
Well, low and behold he showed up Saturday morning and put up his money (donated). I was a little surprised he showed up because most of these “great” anglers never show up. He actually pulled up beside my boat before takeoff that morning and began to tell me how many fish he had caught the last two days and put in the freezer. It was at this point; I knew he was in trouble. After a tough day of fishing, as the fish did not bite very well at all, I pulled up beside him at the dock and asked how he did. Let me go ahead and state the obvious; he was not a happy camper (angler) due to the expression on his face. I was the last guy he wanted to talk to since he had talked so much trash about how he “always” catches fish every time he goes fishing. He finally answered me by saying how he just couldn’t understand what had just happened. He’s never gone fishing in his life and not caught fish! He was very confused and had that bewildered look (so many anglers have had before) as to what just happened.
It was at this time with a smirk on my face and a wink, I said, “Welcome to tournament fishing!” It just proves that no matter how good an angler you are or think you are, there will be days that you just don’t figure them out. Oh, and with a slight chuckle, I reminded him that the fish he caught the last two days and put in the freezer won’t bite on tournament day after they’re frozen. That’s why tournament anglers practice catch and release. I never saw this guy at a tournament ever again! Guess you could say he got humbled; tournament fishing will do that to an angler. Till next time, good luck, good fishing and don’t forget your sunscreen. Take it from me, Melanoma does not discriminate!