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Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

Humility Learned the Hard Way

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Photograph by: Chris Funk Photograph by: Chris Funk

Humility comes upon us in a variety of ways. Often, it is our arrogance crashing down upon our heads. Sometimes it is just an unfortunate event that teaches us the deepest of lessons. Although the 2014 tournament season on the River Bassin Trail brought me angling success and four new personal records for bass, it served some mighty, heaping helpings of humble pie.

I won the first tournament of the season, and along with it a new kayak and personal record five-pound spotted bass - a record I had been chasing for a couple years. I also added a couple second-place finishes, two other spotted bass, and a smallmouth over five pounds. I’ve never been one to brag or feel that I am better than anyone else, but I am one who never stops or slows down for the moment. I’m always excited and in a rush, pushing on to the next big thing. That can be the next cast, the next laydown, the next bend in the river, the next tournament, or the next experience in life. I overlook a lot of important things and rush on through. Thoroughness has never been my nature, and my fishing is the same. I never sit and work that shoal or laydown like I should. I bust through it with a swimbait and move on to the next. And God help me if there is another angler in the area; I speed up another notch.

Those overlooked details can have some serious consequences. If I had slowed down in Tennessee, I would have been able to take some mighty fine photos of my personal best smallmouth. And if I had slowed down to measure my fish carefully, it would have hit that next quarter-inch mark and given me another win and another kayak. But I just slapped the fish on the board, got my pictures, blasted through to the next shoal, and was left with some so-so photos and a “coulda-woulda-shoulda” second-place finish. In Alab

ama, I had one of the best swimbait bites I have ever experienced. I culled four fish over seventeen inches and caught some of the prettiest spotted bass I have ever seen. Did I stop to run some cool video? Did I stop and get some great photos? Nope - I just rushed through jacking as many jaws as humanly possible, and hit the takeout with tons of time to spare. If I didn’t rush so, I probably would have had the best swimbait cast-to-catch video compilation in my life. I also would have had some great photos that I had more than enough time to take. I probably would have sealed the deal on that last, giant spotted bass that likely would have approached six pounds, been the summation of a lifelong dream, and would have culled me into first place. But I didn’t. I made a quick cast, had an eye on the next shoal section, and didn’t get the hooks into it well enough.

If I would ever learn to slow down, take care of what’s important, take one step at a time, and handle all my business, I would likely have stopped and uploaded the 52” of Coosa River spotted bass I had on my camera to the River Bassin “submit fish” form. If I would ever learn to slow down, I would have zipped up my wader pocket after my wife called to check in on me. Better yet, I would have put my phone in my nice dry box. I probably would have culled one of the short fish I had and made that push for River Basser of the Year. But I didn’t. I hurried through, looking for that next shoal to toss a bait. I hung my Jackson Kayak “Big Rig” up on rock, hopped out to push it across, slipped, and sent my kayak downriver, forcing me to jump in and grab the rear handle. My phone got soaked and zapped my virtual stringer, leaving me cold, wet, and out of time and fish. I held a portion of first place in the River Bassin series for almost the entirety of the season, but lost everything with a simple careless mistake.

Humble pie has a harsh bite, and an even worse aftertaste that can linger for weeks. It is a tough thing to swallow, but you learn a lot about yourself when you get chewed up by your own emotions and spit out the other side. I beat myself up for a good long while. “Why did this have to happen?” “Why did I have to lose it all in the end?” I had to learn the hard way that running helter-skelter, leaving the pieces to fall how they may, and overlooking those fine details you chose to overlook can really cost when the time comes to pay. So, I took a long look at myself and made some changes to make myself a better person and angler. Here I sit, preparing for the 2015 season on the River Bassin Trail. I have high hopes for more wins and more personal bests. Maybe I will catch that six- pound spot or smallmouth, or land that eight- pound largemouth. Maybe I will win the National Championship or River Basser of the Year. Either way, I plan on slowing down, taking care of those details, enjoying time with friends, getting that perfect photo or video, and loving life on the water!

Read 6523 times Last modified on Saturday, 07 February 2015 08:56
Evan Howard

Fishing is in Evan's blood; ingrained in his DNA like thread woven into fabric. He was taught to fish by his father and grandfather as an integral, life skill. His youth was spent exploring the banks of North Alabama’s ponds and rivers, searching for big bass and adventure; daydream of tournament wins and becoming a professional angler. However, he yearned to escape those banks to explore, go farther, and fish waters I could not reach. After he graduated college, kayak fishing, spearheaded by guys like Drew Gregory, exploded onto the angling scene and provided the means to escape the banks and ply the unreachable waters he longed for. Evan quickly fell in love with paddling and fishing all waters, but his true passion lies in exploring small, remote flows to unlock their guarded secrets; hard-fighting, river fish.

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+1 # Kardinal_84 2015-02-06 12:17
Great article. I sort of know how you feel, except I haven;t been nearly as successful. BUT you got a first, a few seconds, and multiple personal bests? And you are looking back with regret? That's just wrong! :-) Do you have any idea how many people who would love to have the results you did?

I'd argue, your style led to that level of success. We all think we can multi task, but I also think fishing requires laser like focus to optimize it all. Attention to detail is important, but taking in scenery during a tournament? Nah...

What an awesome year you had! Congratulations ! I'm not giving ya grief. I'm just very impressed with the accomplishment! ! We can always do more, but it sure sounds like you have it dialed in!!!!!

great article!!!
# elhoward622 2015-02-10 13:00
Thanks buddy! I don't think I will every truly be able to slow my pace very much, but I will take time for relish the moments a little more and take the time to be more careful when times call for it. I'll probably always live and die by fishing fast with topwater and swimbait, but I will be adding in some finesse here and there.
+1 # KYYak 2015-02-07 00:48
Great article! I have the same issue. Not as many good fish as you but I move on way to fast. I need to slow down on the water and just take my time. I say it every season and in the end I just rush through and it ends up hurting me....maybe this year though lol
# elhoward622 2015-02-10 12:59
Do it man! There is a time for each, but slowing down surely doesn't hurt things. I have watched many an angler catch big ones behind me off cover I didn't fish.
+1 # Richard Melucci 2015-02-09 11:07
Great article Too bad you could not had the video, I bet it would have been a great one!
# elhoward622 2015-02-10 12:58
I didn't want to slow down fishing to run film! Haha!
+1 # klmccllg 2015-02-10 09:30
Very good read. I've had the chance to meet you a couple of times Evan and you've always came across as a good guy.
# elhoward622 2015-02-10 12:57
Thanks! I'm a pretty easy going guy, as long as I don't have to swim down a shoal after my kayak :lol:

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