Thursday, April 21, 2011
MANY, La. --
I had a difficult first day. I weighed in less than 12 pounds. It was late in the day on Friday (Day Two), and I only had three little fish in my livewell. I was down. I'd had a couple of tough years, and it was beginning to look like this would be another one.
Swindle spent a good portion of Day Four fishing the windy main lake point.
With about five minutes to go I found an old roadbed with my Navionics. It ran from one side of a cove to another. Everything I needed was there -- a long, tapering point as well as grass and wood. There were some old pilings on the road in about 10 feet of water. It looked like they'd taken the top of the bridge off and left everything else standing.
I threw a Texas rigged lizard around the structure. She bit fairly quickly, but when I set the hook I knew she was back under something. We went back and forth across the pilings for 3 or 4 minutes. I was running out of time. I decided to break her off and just go in. When I pulled real hard she came out, swam right to the top and rolled over on her side.
At the time, I thought she weighed about 8 pounds, maybe a little more. I figured that would put me close to the first cut. With that thought in mind I decided to push my luck on time and stay a few more minutes. Nothing.
When I got to the weigh-in, I realized she was bigger than I'd originally thought. In the end, I made the cut and ended up fishing all the way into Sunday. I finished the tournament in 12th place.
My rod was a heavy action, 7-foot, 1-inch Daiwa Steez Compile X model. I used a Daiwa Steez high-speed reel (7.1:1 gear ratio) spooled with 20-pound-test Maxima fluorocarbon line. My bait was a Berkley Power Lizard. I used a 5/16-ounce tungsten weight and a 5/0 standard offset Gamakatsu worm hook.
My line choice was especially important. It didn't break when the fish was rubbing it back and forth on the pilings. Even more impressive, it didn't break when I was trying to break it. If it had, I wouldn't be telling this story.
The lesson here is to follow the advice of my friend, Mike Iaconelli -- never give up! I caught this big fish in the last few minutes of the day when I really didn't think I could make the Top 50 cut, much less end up fishing the Top 12 on Sunday.
And, when I thought she'd never come out, my tackle held and I boated her. This is a sport that's as much about mental attitude as it is about anything else. Never forget that, and never let bad mojo take over your life.