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Wednesday, September 22
BASSMASTER Invitational - 1000 Islands, NY - Final practice day. Installed new batteries in the boat, and worked on getting my tackle ready this morning before going out for a few hours. Fished from 11 to 5 p.m. Checked a few new areas - nothing good. Looked for more good docks to flip - didn't find any (at least I didn't get bit on any). Filled the boat with gas and oil, and tied up to the boat slip. After dinner we walked over to the partner pairings meeting. I drew Ray Sedgewick, a full-time pro who came in 6th here two years ago. He says he's on good fish again this year, down in the lake on the way to Chaumont, so I'm riding in his boat to his fish in the morning. He's doing the same thing as I, spinnerbaiting, so if his stuff doesn't work we'll just continue on around the corner to Chaumont and fish my fish.
Dan slept in this morning. He has not had eight hours of sleep in a long time. The tournament starts tomorrow so it did him good to get a good nights sleep. I launched him at about 11a.m., and since we have a boat slip for tonight I don't have to go pick him up later. I did laundry and made chocolate chip cookies this morning. I also got plane tickets for the kids to come visit us in Florida for Christmas vacation.
I met Dan at the boat slip at 5:00, and we worked on getting his tackle ready. Back at the camper he jumped in the shower as I made dinner. We sat down to eat at 6:00, walked out the door at 6:15 and ran to the meeting down the road in time for 6:30. If you are late to the meeting, it costs you money.
Afterwards we came back, we laid around, watched TV and just spent some time cuddling. It was wonderful. Of course if anything else happened I would not really tell you, as you probably already know from a year of reading the journal.
Thursday, September 23
BASSMASTER Invitational - 1000 Islands, NY - Day 1 of tournament: Last night at the meeting I had told my partner that for as long as I have been fishing tournaments, not once has anyone who has said they were catching lots of fish in practice actually gone out and done it the next day. Not once. Well the streak continues - we fished Ray's fish in the morning until 11:00, and both caught only one fish. So we went on down to Chaumont and fished my fish for about an hour, and Ray caught one more. It was so windy and rough that you simply could not fish on either his or my spots any longer.
We left at 1:00 and made the run back towards Clayton, where we planned to fish the last two hours on a spot Ray claimed we could catch a limit of small largemouth. We had six to eight foot waves on the ride, and it was so wet that it was like someone throwing a bucket of water at you every 60 seconds. Also, we took probably five waves over the bow, each one filling the cockpit above the level of the seats with water and floating everything in the boat. After almost two hours of travel like this, we finally hit a wave that broke the trolling motor right off of the boat, and somehow knocked the bilge pumps out also. Fortunately we were within five files of home, but with all the water in the boat we had to pump out the livewells and I had to climb way up onto the bow in order to get the boat back up on plane. We checked-in an hour and a half early, looking like a couple of drowned rats.
I weighed-in 3 lbs. of fish today. It took 22 lbs. over three days to get a check here two years ago. If that remains consistent, I need to catch 19 lbs. in the next two days to get a check. Judging from my practice, I should be able to do that.
Mary Ann, Jessie, Phyllis and I went to Boldt Castle today. It is a famous tourist attraction here. Dan and I have seen it by water, but we have never gone. It is a Castle that George Boldt built for the love of his life, his wife Louise, in 1900. His wife died before the castle was finished and the day after she died George ordered all work on the castle to stop and he never again returned.
We went out to lunch after the tour and got to the weigh in right when the men were starting to come in. Dan was not do in until 4:20 so I went to the motorhome to let Cooper out before I walked down to the docks. While I was there Dan pulled up in his partner's truck. He was drenched and I was scared, I thought he had been thrown out of the boat. Water was actually coming out of the bottom of his rainsuit. He informed me he was OK but that the lake was rough, and they had had problems.
Dan stripped his wet stuff off, took a hot shower and made some hot coffee. He looked and felt pretty good by the time we walked down to the weigh-in to talk to everybody and to meet tomorrow's partner. He seems lie a happy-go-lucky guy, and tomorrow they're going in Dan's boat, and they're not going out into the lake.
I did laundry until 8:00 so Dan would have dry clothes, a dry rainsuit, and dry boots for the morning.
Friday, September 24
BASSMASTER Invitational - 1000 Islands, NY - Day 2 of tournament: Fished with Greg Toth of Alabama today, and stayed in the river instead of going out into the lake. We worked well as a team - catching fish off his spots first, then doing my stuff for a while, flipping that Gambler paddle tail worm into the grass mats, then finishing up on his spots again. We both weighed in a limit of fish for about 8 lbs. each.
Unfortunately, everybody is catching fish. Normally in these tournaments, the total catch goes down each day, but today the total went up. The cut for making a check is now at 19 lbs, and I have 11. I estimate that I need to catch 17 lbs. tomorrow. My partner for tomorrow is in the same position - we both need a big bag of fish. We both have spots to go to in Chaumont Bay, and we're in agreement that that is the only place we know where we could possibly pull it off, so we're going down to the lake. The wind is supposed to lay down a bit, thankfully, so we might even get back in the afternoon.
I got up around 8:30 and tried to work on the computer. I am getting very frustrated, about this proposal I am trying to put together, about fishing, life, and just about everything! I know it is because we are going home tomorrow. We are always stressed out from fishing, but going home brings on a whole different kind of stress. When we fish, whether it is for practice or a tournament, we are devoted to fishing, we do not go do the tourist thing and hardly ever go out unless it is to do groceries or laundry. Then, we go home to New Hampshire and it is a whole different life. We try to spend as much time as possible with the kids. That will include going to soccer and football games. Then we have to visit with our relatives who don't understand why we are home and still are not able to spend enough time with them. Aside from that, home time is when we try and get the business side of this fishing career caught up. We are so busy trying to make everyone else happy that the time just flies by and we are just as stressed as when we leave. That is about how my day has been. I was very glad Dan came in with five fish. I made us spaghetti with Italian sausage for dinner. Dan got his equipment ready, and his back was very sore from today, so he went to bed early.
Saturday, September 25
BASSMASTER Invitational - 1000 Islands, NY - Final day of tournament: When we started out this morning, I figured I needed a 17 lb. bag of fish today to catch up. That's a pretty tall order, and I had really resigned myself to just another mediocre finish. But the sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the lake was dead-flat calm all day today - it was simply a beautiful day to go fishing. And to top it off, the fish were really biting, too. We ran down to Chaumont Bay, and I had a five fish limit in 59 minutes. My partner, Bill Capwell, was catching them too, and we were having a great time. When the fish are on like this, the pressure of tournament fishing fades away and you end up just having loads of fun and catching lots of fish. That's what happened today - we laughed and joked and jerked on fish all morning long. Between the two of us we boated between 25 and 30 keepers in five hours.
By 11:00 or so though, it was time to go hunt some big ones. We were both culling fish and improving our limits, but we needed the for and five lb. bites now in order to really help us out. We moved over to my big fish spot, and decided to camp on that grass line for the rest of the day. I ended up catching one good one before it was time to leave, probably my biggest fish of the day, but I knew it wasn't enough. We made the hour's ride back to Clayton and weighed-in - I had 13 lbs. and Bill had around 12. And guess what - the total weight caught went up again today - in the end it took a total of 30 lbs. to get the last check in this tournament. I told Annie later that in a way I was glad I didn't catch the 17 lbs. today I thought I needed. When I got back to the weigh-in I would have been very disappointed to have accomplished that goal for the day, and yet still have fallen short in the end.
I am not overly disappointed with the results of this tournament. I feel that I practiced well, covered lots of water, and found enough fish to at least place in-the-money. I had a good game-plan for the three day event also, and had the weather not drowned us out and disabled our boat on day one, I think I could have caught a small limit of fish that day, and achieved a top-50 finish here for the week.
I did not get up until 9:00 this morning. We will be driving tonight so I thought the later I stay in bed, the later I can drive. I spent the day organizing the motorhome, cleaning the site and getting ready to hit the road.
Dan came in with five fish and they had a very good day. It did not put us in the money, but at least he was pleased with his performance.
We got the boat out of the water and went home so Dan could shower before we left. We ended up talking to a very nice couple that we met and by the time we went in the house it was 9:00 p.m. We decided to sleep there and leave early in the morning.
Sunday, September 26
We started the motorhome and got on the road at 6:30 a.m. After 250 miles, and about 50 miles from the New Hampshire state line, the engine stalled. We got it to the side of the road, and eventually got it running just long enough to get us to a rest area a half-mile away. Once there, we shut it off and never got it running again. We called the wrecker service (the same one who towed us the last time) to see if they'd come this far - about 150 miles. We called the insurance company, to get an authorization number and make sure they'd pay for the tow. Then we called the wrecker service again, and told them to come and get us. That was at 2 p.m. The truck showed up at 9.
Initially, we were frustrated and upset, but then we figured we'd just make the best of it. Dan figured that maybe this happened for a reason. Maybe God was the one who had us break down, and then got us running just long enough to reach a safe rest area. Maybe God knows that when we do get back to New Hampshire, we are going to be so busy that we won't have quiet time to spend with just each other, and so he forced it on us now. In the end, it wasn't bad at all - we took a nap, we showered and dressed, we read and watched TV, and I even made chocolate chip cookies.
At 9 p.m. the wrecker came, and he brought a pickup truck with him to tow the boat home with. That was especially nice, first because we didn't have to leave the boat on the side of the road, and second because we didn't have to all crowd into the tow truck for the long ride home. We finally made it back to N.H. just before midnight. Charge for towing: $652.00.
Monday, September 27
The folks at Gary's RV Center are getting to feel like family. They all know us now, and ask about the fishing, and life on tour, and even have fishing stories of their own to tell us. We left the camper off there, borrowed a car and drove up to the lake to get our own Bronco, then settled in to Bob & Flo's house for a few days. In the afternoon, we went over to the school sports fields to search for the kids. What a madhouse. There were three separate football practices going on, and something like eight different soccer games, all happening at once. We did eventually find everyone, and saw at least some of everyone's game or practice. Afterwards we drove the kids back to their house, and threw the football around with them for a while.
Tuesday, September 28
We spent the entire day today emptying the boat, and cleaning it up for sale. Dan is meeting with a guy tomorrow who seemed very interested in buying it, when we talked to him on the phone last week. By the time we were done, it looked beautiful again.
Wednesday, September 29
Dan left this morning and drove up to the lake with the boat, where he is meeting with the guy who was interested in buying it. They rode around on the lake, talked about it, and made a deal. Dan came home with a deposit of $500, and they'll do the actual transfer next week. Alleluia, the boat is sold! That's a big load off.
That evening, we went over to the high school for parent's night. We visited seven or eight of the kid's classrooms, met the teachers, and listened to their policies. We also learned that the high school has it's own web site, where teachers can post their course expectations and homework assignments. Between that, and an email address for many of the teachers, we should be able to stay much more informed about the kids' schooling and progress in the coming year.