OK, you might as well admit it. Anybody who’s ever fished a bass tournament has thought about how great it would be like to step up and fish for a living or at least at the next level. I’ll admit that I’ve wondered what it would be like to make it to the Elite Series myself and I should know better. We all imagine the days on the water, catching that fish that wins the tournament or qualifies you for the Classic. But the reality of fishing for a living is entirely different.
A lot of the days of a traveling professional fishermen start out like mine did yesterday. Up at 5am Eastern time, I got into the truck and hit the home button on the GPS. 537 miles to go was news that popped up on the screen. Not what I’d hoped to see; but there it was, time to get back on the road. Over the last 4 years, between work and fishing, I’ve put 181,000 miles on that Suburban. So getting on the road is not a new experience, but it’s not something that I really look forward to anytime.
The worst part of traveling, especially alone, is all the time you have to think about how the week went. Things you did right, things you did wrong and everything else that went on fill the miles and this trip surely won’t be any different. So after loading all my stuff and picking up breakfast for the road, I got started about 5:30.
It’s a beautiful drive home from Douglas Lake at Dandridge, TN where I spent the last week. The rolling foothills of Tennessee certainly beat some of the drives I’ve made and there’s a lot to see along the way. At 465 miles to go, I pass the exit to Watt’s Bar, one of the lakes I’ve always heard about and wanted to fish but I’ve never been able to make the time to make the trip.
At 397 miles to go, it’s time to stop for fuel. I’ve gotten lucky and timed it on the short section of highway that goes through Georgia and $3.42 a gallon is the lowest price I’ve seen for a while. The service stations really have us where they want us when we’re happy to pay $3.42 a gallon. I do lose about 15 minutes here talking to a guy named Mike whose interested in Phoenix boats and hasn’t had a chance to see one in person yet. He’s a nice guy but I’d really rather be covering some miles but this is why companies sponsor competitive fishermen, so we go over the boat from end to end.
My daughter is always telling me that I’m going to meet a serial killer one day this way because I talk to everyone I meet on the road. I figure I’m pretty safe unless I meet a serial killer who targets overweight, 50 year old bass fishermen. I’ve never seen that one on Criminal Minds and it’s a pretty narrow demographic, so the odds are pretty good it’ll never happen.
At 329 to go, Weiss, another lake I’ve always wanted to fish, goes by and at 308 to go, there goes Neely Henry. I’ve made a couple of trips there and gotten one check but I can live without going back. I’d much rather go the other way at that exit and fish either Guntersville or Wheeler. There are so many great lakes in north Alabama; maybe I can retire up here after I win the lottery.
At 239 to go, I have the first close call of the trip. Some guy in a minivan eases into my lane and forces me half way onto the shoulder of the interstate. Big surprise, he’s on his cell phone and not paying attention. We’ve all done it and I have to control my temper. After all, one of the things about running a wrapped boat is that when you are in it, you are representing your sponsor. Since you’re always on the clock, anything you do reflects on that sponsor, so I just smile and wave as I go by and resist the urge to tell him he’s number 1 in my book.
At 176 to go, I remember I need to use that double fluke rig that my second day’s partner was throwing for one of my tips of the week on www.ScoutLookWeather.com. I’ve got a set of them due next week and I’ve got to get to work on them. That one would make a great video tip since they look great coming through the water together.
At 126 to go, I’m back in Mississippi and make my second fuel stop of the day. It’s not really time yet; but I need a rest stop and I’ll have to get fuel before I get home, so I go ahead and stop. Fuel is $3.51 this time, but maybe Mississippi will use some of that extra tax revenue to fix some of their roads. Yeah right, there’s just about as good a chance of that happening as there is of me winning that lottery.
At 10 miles to go and after 8 hours on the road, it’s lunch time and I’m meeting my wife in town for a meal. It’s been a long day, but it’s only about 12:30 central time, so I’ll have plenty of time to take care of some of those honey-dos when I get to the house. It’ll be great to spend the night in my own bed.
A day in the life of a traveling pro is not always spent on the water. To want to fish any of the national circuits, you have to have a little gypsy in your blood. Douglas Lake was actually the second shortest trip of the year for me, so the drive wasn’t really that bad. Give me a couple of days at home and I’ll be ready to go and do it all over again.
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Mercury Motors, Motorguide Trolling Motors, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.