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Author Topic: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done  (Read 5087 times)

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Savage

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National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« on: November 02, 2009, 09:32:16 PM »

Well guys, it was quite a trip and that's an understatement.  There's nothing quite like fishing out of someome else's new boat for six days withouit paying for gas, food, or lodging.  Each day went basically like this:

5AM - Wake up, stagger down to breakfast in the hotel and check in with the lady with the clipboard, who would ambush you as soon as you got off the elevator.  Her name was Joy but we lovingly tagged her as the "Clipbaod Nazi".  She demanded to know yuour boat number, which was randomly drawn and kept all week.  I was #11 and will never forget it as long as I live.  Once Joy was had your number, you were cleared to eat and hang out with the boys and talk fishing.

6AM - Climb on the tour bus with the rest of the guys and talk bass fishing while we made the short drive to the boat yard.

6:15 - Walk to your boat and hop in.  Nothing like walking up to a brand new boat in the morning under stadium lights.  The boats were side by side in twin rows of27 boats each.  The rows were set with the motors in towards the center so that there was a path between the two rows down the middle with the engines all lined up.  An awesome sight.  The first thing we did in the boat was to check out our lunch, which was wating there on the deck as if left by the lunch fairy.  Every day was something different, very cool indeed.  Also on the deck was a bag of ice, and the cooler was already stocked with bottled water and Gatorade.

6:15 to 7:00 - This is your time to ready your tackle and talk with the guys lined up next to you.  The boats were lined up in order so I had Shane Cowan from South Dakota (boat #10) on my left and Tom Jessup from Texas on my right.  I called him "Tex" and the name stuck pretty good all week.  I learned alot form Tex during the tournament, it was his 2nd trip to Nationals.  At some point, a Toyota Tundra would back up to your boat and a couple guys would hook your boat up for you.  This you supervised from the comfort of your boat, and then off to the ramp you went.

7:00 - Dumped intot eh water to await the other guys and mill about until 7:30.  During this time opf morning the sun began to rise and the lake came alive.  Coolest time fo the day, truly awesome.  Loud tunes are blaring from the speakers on the dock, and it's hard not to get pumped up.

7:30 - Blast off.  Every day we wnet in different order, but always the same way.  As we slowly idled past the dock we had to ensure our livewells worked and the kill switch was working.  Then we were off for the day until check in.  Every day we had to check in by a certain time, even on practice days.

7:30 - 3:30 - Fishing time.  UInless you spent the tournement in Lake Dora, you had to go through one or more canals.  The Dora Canal, which connects Dora to Eustis, was an awesome sight to behold.  THe tress actually grow right over the canal and you feel like you ar edeep in the swamp.  Ti took 20 minutes to idle through.  The dead river took another 20 so it meant a 40 minute ride just to get to Big lake Harris where most guys (including me) fished most of the time.  I didn't see any big gators, but I caught one on a topwater frog.  Yes they fight pretty good, too.  I snapped a couple shots of him on my cell phone so if you bump into me out in the worl I'll be happy to show you!

3:30 PM - Back to the ramp and we are pulled out in order.  A gal with a megaphone stands on the dock and makes sure we come out in the right order.  Pretty important for later in the wek during the tournament.

3:30 to 5:00 PM - As you are waiting your turn to get pulled out, this is your time to work on tackle and rods.  Also if you are one of the first guys pulled out you can do this in your boat on shore.  You don't do anything except back off the trailer in the morning and pull back onto it after the day is done.  I fished for 6 days and never touched the trailer once.  Awesome.

5:00 - Back on the bus after checking back in with the Clipboard Nazi.  I counted the times we loaded onto the bus and it was 18 for the week.  I may have even missed a time or two but we were well trained before the week was over.

5:30 - Evry other night or so we had something to go to, a check-in banquet, welcome banquet, or awards banquet.  All had really great food from JJ Fins, the best seafood joint in town.

9:00 - The Evan Williams Bourbon hopsitality suite opened up.  I don't recall much about that....

I'll try to post again this week to describe some other cool details about weigh-in, boat gas, fishing spots and picking your song. 8)
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Hooksetter

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2009, 10:11:06 PM »

I was following the tournament at bassmaster.com. The stories and pictures were great. I'm pretty sure that most members here have dreamed of doing what you were doing the past week or so. Very cool!

Willie
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djkimmel

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 02:39:24 AM »

Thanks for part of the story. Looking forward to more. Truly is one of the real fun parts of bass tournament fishing! Good job getting limits each day. Consistency is important.
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mikesmiph

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 07:52:02 AM »

Many of us here in Michigan watched the website to keep tabs on you. You did us all very proud. Congrats again to you on a very respectful tourney. Limits every day. Thats something not many people can claim. You did an awesome job and we are all proud of you. Sounds like you had some fun in there too. I can only dream of the things you described.
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dartag

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 12:38:16 PM »

be waiting for part 2.  sounds like a great adventure.


curious what events did you fish to qualify for the championship.   
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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2009, 02:02:58 PM »

be waiting for part 2.  sounds like a great adventure.


curious what events did you fish to qualify for the championship.   

Ditto
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Dan

Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2009, 07:00:15 PM »

You first have to fish the Michigan B.A.S.S. Federation Nation State Championship. You then must finish in the top twelve to make the state team. You then fish with the state team in the Northern Divisional. At the Divisional, you have to be the top competitor on the Michigan team. You then are the Michigan Champion and get to go to the Nationals. At the Nationals, you need to be the top finisher in the your Division and you earn a Bassmaster Classic spot. There are six or seven states in the Northern Division, so your odds are not too bad. They also throw in a National Champion from countries like Japan, Italy, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, etc. in to each of the Divisions. The overall winner, like the guy this year from Maine, was the top guy in his Division so he goes along with the top guys from each of the other divisions.
I went down and rode as an observer the year Don Fowler won in 2007. We actually stopped and fished two days on the Harris Chain. We fished our way down and also stopped at Dale Hollow, and Wheeler in Alabama.
As I've mentioned before, I have the whole trip blogged from Michigan to Toho day by day with a load of pictures on my teardropbass.com website blog. It is still in the archived section of 2007 blogs.
Even though I wasn't fishing in the Nationals, it was a great trip. As Savage said, it was the chance of a lifetime even as an observer. It was a lot of fun. Great memories, and I met a number of great fishermen that I still correspond with.
Here are some of the pics I took down there that sounded like what impressed Savage as well. The boat lot was a cool place and a sight to behold. My last day boater from Idaho caught as gator too. I took it off the hook for him. The whole time I was unhooking it, the little guy was calling for his mama. I got it back in the water quick. Those bass boats are definitely not mama gator proof.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2009, 11:50:13 PM by Dan »
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Savage

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2009, 09:41:04 PM »

The road to Nationals is a long one and took me 2 years.  First you are required to be in a BASS affiliated club and finish well enough in your club to qualify for the state level qualifier tournament, what we call the "State Fish Off".  I made the state team of 12 by finishing 4th at Lake Charlevoix in the fall of 2008.  Next each state sends their team of 12 to a Divisional level tournament.  We are in the Northern Division along with Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakotta, and Iowa.  The Divional this year was held on Little Bay de Noc in Escanaba, Michigan.  I was lucky enough to be the top finisher from the Michigan team which sent me to Nationals.

Now as promised, I'll try to recall some of the cool stuff we did. 

Weigh in was nothing short of badass if you are a fan of the sport.  We were called to the ramp by a person on the dock with a bullhorn.  We had to come out in certain order because the truck pulled us right up to the stage.  As we pulled out of the water the Skeeter and Yamaha crew members asked if we had any issues with the boat during the day.  If so, it was fixed before we got back the next day. 

As we pulled away from the ramp we snaked our way behind the stage.  At this point Trip Weldon wasthere to check out of bad and make sure all the fish were legal.  Trip would hand you a mesh bag to put the fish in, and then he'd take them into a tub to measure.  If you had a limit (Like I did every day ;D) he would then check with his hand in both livewells to make sure there were no more fish in there, just in case.  I've never seen that done before so it was something different.  After Trip giveshis approval to your bass, you put your fish back in the well but still in the mess bag.  Closing the lid on the bag makes it stay put.  From there you snake back around and roll up in front of the stage.  As you round the corner to do this, your music comes on the speakers.  My song was Alice in Chain's "Man in the box" and was hastily chosen from a list of songs during the banquet.  I like the song alot but might havbe chosen differently given the chance.  It was cool though.

If you have a big one to lift for the crowd you can keep it seperate in the well to make it easier to catch.  On Day one I had my only fish worth lifting for the crowd, it wa 20 inches in length.  I ended up being the first guy to do this on day one and got an appropriate cheer for my efforts.  You could not see this as it happened off camera, but man it is a rush to pull a fish out of the well and hold it up foir a cheering crowd.  Nothing like it man.  As you step off the boat onto the stage, the boat pulls away back to the boatyard.  You do not see it again until the next day which was wierd.  Anything you wanted to take back to the hotel had to be handed off before you weighed in.  Another strange thing behind the scenes you never see.

As you walk up to the scales and turn towards the crowd and camera, it hit you "I am in front of about 50,000 people right now" (including the internet).  I got serious butterflies the first day but after that I just forgot about it.  The fish are weighed in the same mesh bag you got earlier from Trip, and they have about 100 of them so we all use our own.  After a few comments to the crowd, you walk off the stage. 

As you leave you are handed a slip of paper that was just freshly printed, about the size of a reciept.  On this paper (this is so cool) is your weight for the day, your total weight so far, and your blast off position the next day.  At the Divisional level tournament this slip also told you your partner for the next day, his phone number, and which hotel he was staying in to make planning for the morning that muh easier.  Then as you make your way off the stage a bottle of water suddenly appears in your hand to make sure you stay hydrated.  BASS takes good care of you the whole time, to make sure everything goes smooth and the experience is the best it can be.

More to follow, I have to go tuck in the boys for bed.
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Mark117

Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2009, 09:52:59 PM »

AMAZING!!! Thanks! ;D
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Savage

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 06:54:35 PM »

The Florida Factor:  One cool thing about Flordia is that Bass fishermen are treated about like football players in west Texas.  They actually like and respect us down there!

Case in point:  When we had our registration meeting, the fish & wildlife people spoke to us for a few minutes.  They said that if anyone gave us any crap or trouble about fishing around their dock, we should call them immediately because that is a 2nd degree misdemeanor and they "LOVE to deal with people like that".  It was so cool to be down there and actually get positive attention for being a bass fisherman!

Another great thing was the local tackle shop.  It was stacked to the ceiling with baits you can never find anywhere outside of Bass Pro Shops.  All of the baits were for BASS no walleye or pike baits here.  Also the local Wal-Mart was better stocked than many of our so called sport shops....  they take bass fishing seriously.

Another cool thing: you can catch a baby gator on a topwater frog pretty easily, but getting them unhooked is a different story!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 12:03:53 AM by djkimmel »
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djkimmel

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2009, 12:51:09 PM »

No video of the gator fishing?? ;D
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Savage

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2009, 10:47:47 PM »

Nope, only a few pics on my cellphone.  They fight like a big smallie!
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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2009, 07:25:15 PM »

Yeah... but can they jump like one??
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bassmandan

Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2009, 09:21:30 PM »

ive had a gator begin to swim towards me while i was catching fish in a golf course pond he was probably around 7-8ft long good size gator i almost steped on him walking around the pond...you have a hard time seeing things behind bushes while fishing...scared the crap out of me
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Dan

Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2009, 09:34:50 PM »

I have video of my third day boater catching a gator. He swung him in the boat and I had to take him off the hook. Just pinned him and popped the hook out. He was making I want mama noises and so I got him back in the water asap. When we were in Florida on Toho and the Harris Chain we saw some huge gators. One of the biggest was on Lake Harris and it was out in the middle of the lake?
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djkimmel

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Re: National Championship - Coolest thing I've ever done
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2009, 10:33:53 PM »

Yeah... makes fishing a little more interesting to know you could be bait too!!
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