There’s nothing quite like take-off on Day One of a major tournament. You’ve put in 4 or 5 days of pre-fishing and now it time to see if all of those hours pay off. Those mornings are full of hope, anticipation and high expectations.
I fished with a bunch of different organizations over the years, but in my opinion, B.A.S.S. does it right and does it better than most of the other groups. All of your boat check is done on the idle out each morning, so if you want to, you can get there just a few minutes before you are scheduled to leave. I’m one of those guys that hates to get rushed on tournament morning, so I’m generally there before the first flight leaves every morning.
Getting there early also leaves you some time if anything goes wrong on the way to the landing. I once ran over a bottle in a parking lot while I was picking up ice on the way to the ramp and had to change a tire. I pretty sure that I set a record for changing a tire that morning but if I’d been cutting it close, that could have been a disaster. If I start the day rushed and tense, that’s the way I’ll fish and most of the time, that’s a recipe for failure.
It’s also interesting to listen to the conversations before take-off. You’ll hear stories about monster fish caught when they were practicing, rock piles hit (a lot at Muskogee), motor and boat problems, crappy motels and hooks in hands. You’ll hear weather discussions, talk of runs to be made and complaints about how the fishing has been. You’ll hear truthful stories, extreme exaggerations and flat out lies. Most of all, you’ll hear the excitement and feel the nervous energy that most of the competitors are feeling.
Once they ask for quiet and play the national anthem, it’s time to get serious. The command to fire them up and call of “Let’s get going” will raise the heart rate of any serious competitive angler, regardless of how long they’ve been doing this. For me, it’s the highlight of the day. There’s something about running a lake or river at sunrise and the pursuit of bass in competition that fills a primal need in me. Regardless of how many days that I come back to the weigh-in with less than I’d hoped for, every morning is special and full of the expectation of that magical day I’ve been looking for all these years.
Regrettably for most, the day won’t go as planned. Only a small percentage of the field will do well enough to be in contention for day 2. But before everyone takes off, everyone is equal and feels like they’ll make that run at the title. At that point, you feel like you can conquer the world. There are few feeling is the world like that one and the memories of those mornings carry most of us through the upcoming off season and will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
Even after 15 seasons, with B.A.S.S., I still get that thrill and I guess I’ll keep it up as long as that feeling is there.
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.