Day One: The Potomac River is a short drive, only about 5 hours, when you compare it to most venues we have attended this year. Even though it is a short drive, I find myself arriving late to Maryland. This is high school graduation weekend for my oldest daughter, and I wouldn't miss it for anything. Seems like yesterday I was walking across that same stage at Western Harnett High School as a skinny grad. Now my daughter is walking those same steps I took some 20 years ago. But I must admit, her steps over shadow anything I ever did at Western Harnett. Everyone says that tears will be flowing when the time finally comes, but I'm too proud of what my first borne has accomplished not only as a senior, but as a student athlete, to even feel anything other than pride as she stands up on stage to give the opening invocation to the crowd. All I can say about my time in those same halls and playing fields is that I left them. She has left with a list of accomplishments that any parent would be proud of.
Some of her accomplishments just as a senior are:
Wendy's High School Heisman Award Finalist
U.S. Army National Scholar Athlete Award
Western Harnett High School Female Scholar Athlete of the Year
All Conference Academically in both Softball & Volleyball
Co-Captain both in Varsity Volleyball & Softball
And all this while maintaining the # 1 ranking in her Senior Class for part of the year. I feel like a winner even before I get to the Potomac River tournament. Thanks Emily for all your hard work.
The tide is up so high, the boats are almost level with the docks at the ramp. When they call my number, its a short run to our starting area. Man is the tide high. So high, I'm not sure that I'm actually on the grass lines. The dock decking adjacent to the grass flat are completely covered by water. Reminds me of one of the great songs of my youth from The Outlaws, "Green Grass and High Tides".
Quickly I have a couple quick blow ups on topwater so my attention is quickly back to catching fish. A few short fish, and I finally land a nice 15" keeper. The bass has to be atleast 15 inches the first two days of competition, then on Saturday, the size limit drops to 12 inches. I try and make conversation with my co-angler but each time I say something, he just sort of looks at me with a puzzled look. His English is limited but I soon learn he knows the universal language of fishing. He can say, "Net!" pretty plain. And I will hear it often for the rest of the day. Its one of the strangest days I've had fishing in a long time, one that makes you really scratch your head while wondering "what happened". I'm getting bit as planned, but the size is down for me, while my frustration grows from every "NET!" my co-angler screams. Each time I net a keeper for him, he says, "tank yew" (thank you). Don't get me wrong, I have no ill will against my Japanese co-angler, just frustrated that things have gone so wrong for me after a good practice.
The day will go by fast, and my one keeper bass will land me at the end of the day one pack. Man, they sacked them up today, course, that's what I expected to do. I'm still scratching my head on today's events for me and hearing over and over in a Japanese draw, "Nhet!.........................Tank.............yew".
Tournament Day Two: I didn't sleep much last nite. I just lay there wonder what went wrong yesterday. And thinking do I do it all over again or just abandon what I found in practice and go fishing My co-angler partner today is from Alabama. Its his first visit to tidal waters. I have a much longer day today, being I'm next to last boat out. Its a good thing also, as the lines to the ramp this morning are backed up for miles. What should have only taken about 20 minutes to do, takes almost 90 minutes. Word is that the gates to the park were late being opened.
My first stop this morning is about a 20 minute run. The day gets off to a great start as my first few cast will produce a nice 3 pound fish. I don't know what the difference is, perhaps the lower tides, or just the luck of the cast, but my day will go as I planned to have gone from the beginning. I will land a nice limit of bass just under 14 pounds and if for no other reward, atleast get some of my pride back. Yesterday they caught them so well, and I dug such a deep hole, it will only move my spirits instead of move me much in the standings. The good news is that my buddy Bump has made the top 10 cut. I ask him if he thinks he has enough fish to win, his answer is as quick and direct as the "NET" from my Japanese partner. Its a confident "YES"!
Tournament Day One: The morning starts off crisp and cool from the late afternoon storms the day before. I meet up with my co-angler from Japan, we exchange greetings as best we can with the language barrier. He keeps asking me a question that I'm not sure what he is saying, until finally he points to a rod I have and says, "I need braid"? I answer with perhaps when we go flipping. I really don't think I will need to flip, as I feel pretty confident in what I found in practice just fishing the grass flats. My main concern though is the extreme high tide we are experiencing this morning.
Day Two: Its up bright and early this morning. I only have a couple days to figure out the fish and the tides. The Potomac River is tidal, meaning that the water will rise and fall almost 4 feet each day. The Potomac River is also a fish factory due to its abundance of grass. Thank goodness the river has so much grass because it is one of the most heavy pressured tournament waters in the country. Just this weekend alone, there is a BFL and a Bassmaster Weekend Series, along with a 200 boat regional tournament. Throw in the 200 FLW pros practicing on the river, and you would think every fish in the river would be sore mouthed. If the results from these tournaments are any indication, it will take over 15 lbs a day to even scare the top 10.
I feel pretty good after today that I can do that. Even with so much traffic on the river, I manage a limit today that will probably topped the scales at 16 pounds. You can throw away the shakey head here, its pure power fishing at its best. A welcomed change.
Day Three: The weather here is hot! Temps will easily reach the 90's. I think the hotter it gets, the better these fish bite. Like yesterday, I will again find the fish biting. The only scary thing about this is that probably everyone is finding the fishing pretty good. It will come down to who has found the bigger bites. Both Bump and Little E feel pretty good about getting the tournament started.
Day Four: Its a short day today with having the mandatory noon curfew to be off the water. I will spend the morning checking some area's close. I feel good about what I have found, its basically just making sure I don't let the tides get into my head. At the pairings meeting, you can tell everyone is catching them, no one is talking much, well atleast bout fishing. Its more about the weather. A cold front passes thru just as everyone arrives at the meeting, making for some fireworks and big bang from the sky. The thunderstorm is so severe, that it will set off the alarm system in the high school we are meeting at.
With the tides being low tomorrow late in the day, I hope I can secure a later blast off number. But as the year goes, I will get the earliest take off number of the season, boat # 11. My co-angler partner for tomorrow is one of the Japanese anglers. His English is not very good, just bout as bad as my Japanese, lol. But we manage to arrange for a meeting time and place for tomorrow.
Fun Zone Day One: The Fun Zone and top 10 finals have moved to downtown DC for today and tomorrow. None of us have ever been to this venue, so Little E and I plan on leaving early because we have heard mixed reviews about the drive, location and access. It should be pretty easy to find since its right next to the Redskins Football stadium, JFK. We will be parking actually in the stadium parking lots. But we quickly learn that one wrong turn in DC and you are sent spiraling into a maze of streets that are bout has confusing as the political jargon that sometimes comes out of DC.
Our first mistake was exiting off at what we thought was JFK, it turned out to be the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium. One thing we quickly learn, you better know where you are going in DC because the roads are so confusing, you don't have time to second guess in the heavy traffic. Don't ask me how we did it, but we ended up near the White House and drove by the Capitol Building. I stop and ask for some directions from a street vendor and between you and me, my Japanese co-angler spoke better English than he did. We soon learn that if we stay on New Jersey Ave, then to Penn. Ave over to New York Ave, we will intersect with Independence which leads to JFK. Sounds easy cept that in between, New Jersey Ave becomes K Ave and K Ave becomes 10th street and New York becomes Massachusetts Ave. We went from New York, to Pennsylvania, to New Jersey and back to streets from all 26 letters of the alphabet and never left sight of the Capitol. To say we was late is an understatement. Hey, we got to see our Nations Capitol, lol. The good news is that my buddy Bump is leading the tournament after todays weigh in.
Fun Zone Day Two: Today will be better with the return trip to DC. Hey, we are now more like locals instead of tourist after seeing so much. After talking to Bump last nite, we all feel pretty good that this is his tournament to win. Funny how things go sometimes. I felt so good about my practice that I told my family to make plans to come see me in the top 10. Bump was undecided about his tournament so much that he wasn't even sure where he was gonna start when they called his blast off number. Back at the Fun Zone, the Pedigree Pavilion offers the inner city kids a chance to see some pretty amazing dogs perform tricks.
"Green grass and high tides forever"
"Castles of stone souls and glory"
"Lost faces say we adore you"
"As kings and queens bow and play for you"
Yeah, they bow and play just for you... Champ!
We all are buzzed about Bump being in the lead going into today's final round. The Snickers camp, along with the Pedigree group are like a bunch of little kids on Christmas Eve. For those of you who may not be aware of it, Snickers and Pedigree are the same team, same parent company (Masterfoods) which makes us team mates. A couple of the Snickers guys went out this morning and watched Bump in action. They came back in to report he had 4 keepers by 10 am.
Just before its time for the Top Ten to arrive into the complex, I decide to give Bump a call on his cell phone to see how it went. And to my surprise, Bump answers his phone while being driven back from the river. My first question is, "how did it go?" and I can tell from the sound of Chris voice and the response its good. Bumps reply is, "It went good, very GOOD"!
I ask does that mean you got' em? And in one quick response, we all know he will win. His answer is, "Yea, I got' em, I got' em better than yesterday."
And have them he does! Chris will go on to win his first FLW event by a whopping six pounds. I give him my congrats, and hit I95 south. Along the way, I hear a song that I haven't heard for years and it couldn't have come at a more fitting time or moment. Its "Green Grass and High Tides Forever" by The Outlaws. A long distance dedication for ole Bump perhaps, now a FLW Champion....