by Tony Gaskin
After a long month of being on the road, only being home four days in the month of April, I’m proud to say home is no longer on my mind. As I write this blog I am in the comfort of my recliner, home sweet home! It’s always nice to return home after an IFA Redfish Tournament and just be home. This was the first time some type of event, or the combination of events or Tournaments, kept me away for nearly the entire month. I find myself conflicted with happy to be in my own space and separation anxiety from where I just left.
Anxiety may be a slight exaggeration. I departed from my home away from home as I affectionately refer to Quality Inn Georgetown. With a big cup of hot coffee and an awesome night’s rest I’m ready for the three hour drive to get home. With music turned up loud in my Durrence Layne Chevy I find myself in a great mood with time to reflect on my trip. The end result of our Tournament plays a factor in my cheerful demeanor for sure. Eighteenth out of sixty-five was not where we wanted to finish the IFA Georgetown SC event but considering all the hurdles we had to overcome, finishing better than three quarters of the field doesn’t feel too bad.
It was nice to sit at the weigh in and watch team after team weigh in their catch as in the early stages we were in the top ten and that lasted until we got bumped out the money near the end of everyone weighing in. It was a long week seeking out the perfect Redfish. I would have to say the weather was better for this tournament other than some windy days during pre-fishing. One such day changed our chances dramatically.
On Thursday, fishing a very small canal with the wind whipping, my partner Dan Connolly and I had really got on some nice fish BUT... as we made our way out it was so narrow I had to find some kind of wide spot to get turned around to not have to back out on the trolling motor. I have become quite efficient doing this but today was not my day. As I carefully aligned the rear of the boat to make this happen perfectly, a gust of wind caught the boat. This put me off my mark as the tail of the boat stopped short of the opening necessary to pull off this turn-around off. Throwing the bow into the opposite bank in a matter of seconds. Before I could turn around and even get my hand on the stow button of my Minn Kota it was too late, and the crunch was gut wrenching as I realized I had just cracked the shaft of my trolling motor.
It happens to us all eventually, the ones who fish at this level. I am far from the first, but it seems my number was up. It is rare that at least one team per tournament is not going through this, reason being we go places we shouldn’t looking for that big boy Red that’s gonna be a winner on tournament day. These practices explain having an extra trolling motor with you on the road. Tournament fishing without a trolling motor in twenty-five mile an hour winds is impossible so our day was over.
Y’all pray for me because I said a few cuss words (few being a reverse exaggeration) knowing on the way back to the landing and after making a few despite phone calls that this was gonna take us out of the event. No one close had time or parts to get us fixed in time for the tournament. After loading the boat on my Magic Tilt trailer and fighting almost feeling like throwing up from my current situation an amazing thing happen that made me realize what a close-knit fishing family I am proudly a part of.
I had fellow anglers trying to help me out from all over! One offered to make repairs to get me by until he could get the parts, two hours away. One of my fishing partners got his repair guy who had the parts to offer to fix it while I went and ate breakfast, but he was five hours away. Both of these options were on the table and I was considering them both. The good Lord was looking out for me although I may not have deserved it. As I told some of my new friends who have recently started fishing the tour what happened his reply was “ya need to borrow one?”
As luck or blessing would have it, my friends had an extra trolling motor for me to use and was on their way with it. Needless to say, all these friend efforts to help me will not go unrecognized and I am very thankful to them all.
I enjoy sharing all that it takes to be a professional Angler. Most people have no idea about the things that happen behind the scenes like changing out a trolling motor until ten o’clock the night before a tournament.
The portrayal of sunny skies and beautiful on-the-water scenery being played out like a good Beach Boys song and catching tons of fish all the time is not reality. I certainly don’t share this for pity because I truly am living the Dream with all the highs and the lows that this profession brings. I am hopeful that this blog is found to be enjoyable to read and gives a perspective to those that never think about such events.
In closing I ask you to consider this...The next time you see an Angler in any venue, on stage with tears in his or her eyes overcome with emotion or two sunburned guys sitting on the sideline after giving their all in a tournament just hoping their weight gets them a check know that their path to victory or getting paid enough to come back to compete in the next one didn’t come easy. Be proud for them, respect their effort, their passion, and their love for the sport of tournament fishing.
I am fortunate to have the great Sponsors and friends who support me in this industry. I truly can’t express how thankful I am to have you all in my life. Thank You all for your support of all the great men and women that make our sport awesome. Until next time!