It's 0600 Monday, July 23, the week of the Bassmaster Memorial on Oneida Lake. The parking lot at Oneida Shores is empty. Not a single Memorial competitor is in the water from this ramp and it is almost an hour past "'safe light".
Always one of the first at the ramp, Skeet's black-and-yellow mobile isn't even in sight. As this is the third derby week in a row, there are some tired puppies dragging around Brewerton, N.Y. But there's more to this than guys being tired.
This week it really doesn't matter if you get up and on the early bite because the clock doesn't start for the Memorial competition until 0800 hours. 0900 hours on the last two days. Pretty unusual to have a bass tournament that doesn't start at the crack of a sparrow's butt, yet here we are fishing 8 a.m. 'til 4:45 p.m. Bankers hours and I'm liking it.
I know the hours are set back later to try and generate more fan interest by getting people to come out to the take-offs in the a.m. and having the weigh-ins later in the day so that, hey, maybe it's not so damn hot in the middle of the afternoon (what a concept). It also gives those who have to work regular hours can come to the weigh-in after they get off work. What a novel idea.
Aside from that, I'm liking it because I don't have to get up at the ungodly hour of 3:30 in the a.m. — that's crazy! Somebody give me one good reason why all the derbies can't run these hours.
Yes, we might miss the famed "shad spawn" on some of the lakes, but what difference does that make? Every competitor has the same amount of time to catch their fish. The early bite is usually the easy bite; isn't the Elite Series supposed to be about being the best? Does the PGA play on the cheap and easy courses? We would just have to figure out a different way to catch them during the middle of the day when it's a little more difficult to get bit.
Yes, Overstreet might not get those gorgeous sunrise photos like he did at Champlain earlier in the month. Who's to say he might not get some outrageous sunset photos instead?
OK, I'm trying to come up with more thoughts on why we have to get up so early. Is it to boost sales of coffee and Krispy Kreme's at the convenience stores around the lake? Could it be to piss off the gate attendants at the ramps? You know they love to be at work three hours before they normally open. Sometimes you can tell how happy they are to be there before the sun comes up by how chipper they are (not).
I think as much as anything, we get started so early because that's the way we've always done it. That's a good reason; "that's the way we've always done it." Let's don't do anything different because that's the way we've always done it. Whatever.
After fishing this week at the Bassmaster Memorial under banker's hours, I for one would like to try it on a regular season event and see what those who have never fished under these hours think about it. It would also be interesting to see if the Elite Series crowds would be bigger at a later afternoon weigh-in. Would the same guys who catch them early still catch them later in the day or would we see a different group of anglers at the top of the food chain? Hmmm.
We've all heard the old saying about the early bird getting the worm, but you know what, I really don't care for worms. I'd rather sleep a little later.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his website at www.kfshort.com.