With a lot of help from my “danged good cook” son-in-law, I started at 9pm Thursday night before the tournament smoking up some BBQ! I cooked all night and through the morning, and around noon Friday I looked up and saw a truck with a kayak on the roof. I was glad to see Nik Brown jump out and say “What’s that smell?”
The launch for the tournament was only about five minutes away, so I opened up the yard at my house for anyone who wanted to come down and camp, eat, and not have such a long ride to get the morning started. I have learned a few things this year (my first year doing tournaments). One of the things I learned is how much fun can be had before and after a tournament. Competitive fishing has its own appeal, but the fellowship with people that have a passion for the same things - be it fishing, paddling, or just the outdoors - is unbelievable!
I got up the morning of the tournament and started making my rounds, knocking on windows and shaking tents. Everybody was up quick and raring to go, so we all lined up and started the convoy to the ramp. There were already a couple of kayakers there when we rolled in, and a few bass boats. There was a small local bass club launching at the same time we were, but they were very happy to let us get on the water and wait for the clock. Their take off was also planned for 6am, so it was a cool sight to see the kayaks and boats sitting on the water, all waiting for a shotgun start. However, the tournament director for the boat club decided they would take off about ten minutes early, and would be long gone before we started. Now these were some really nice guys, and when they took off, they started out really slow and easy, until they got far enough away, and then they were off to the races! At 6am on the dot, I gave the signal, and sixteen kayaks followed suit and began fishing the very spots that the big boys just ran over!
I pulled away from the ramp and started fishing 100 feet to the right of where everyone had been waiting. I caught a fish within twenty minutes, and then didn’t get another bite until noon. For weeks the bite had been on the points with smaller squared bills, but not this day! The past few days had been bright and sunny, and had the fish up on the banks but not chasing bait. It was clear that to catch fish, you had to slow down and convince them to bite. I saw a few guys catching some fish, but the general consensus was it was very tough. I talked to Pao Yee Thao, one of the top guys in the Angler of the Year race. He was sitting on a spot where he was marking a lot of fish, but had thrown just about everything at them and had not gotten the first bite. We talked a few minutes and as I turned to go back over the flat we both had just fished, Pao Yee finally hooked one of the fish he had been working. I knew then he had them figured out!
I have been bragging all year about the great sponsors we have. This month, one of with the help of another, has really outdone himself! Scott Cargile, owner of OnlineTireDeals.com, wanted something that the guys would be talking about the rest of the year. Adam Filmore, owner of Lake Wylie Bait, Tackle, and Archery wanted to help! Between them, they decided to put a really good prize together to take the place of the “Lure of the Month”. Their solution, dubbed “Tackle of the Month”, was to give a 13 Fishing “Omen Black” rod to one randomly-selected participant! Along with our normal great prizes, Steve Smith (one of our first-time anglers who works for Passerelle Bisto, one of the “Table 301” restaurants in Greenville, SC) offered up a $50 gift card to the winner of the tournament. Another example of the great guys we have fishing with us in this trail!
On to the results! Third place - We had a tie! At 29.25”- Rok Ly and Josh Swaney, For third place, the prize money was split between the two angers. Third place cash was $64, so each fisherman received $32. Rok also received the YakAttack GTSL90 4” GearTrac!
Second place, with 56.75”- Nik Brown. With his 1, 2 finishes in his first two tournaments with us, Nik is proving how much of a competitor he is. I know how hard he worked all day for his second place finish; in a tough bite and tough wind, he still managed to find the fish. His winnings include $96 cash, a SHObaits gift card, and YakAttack GTSL90 8” GearTrac.
First place, with 74.25”- Pao Yee Thao, a member of the Hmong Kayak Fishing Club. If anyone wants to know how serious he is taking these tournaments, all you have to do is ask. I watched Yee for most of the day. He is as tough a competitor as I have ever seen! He never let up all day, catching fish until the last half hour of the tournament. He earned every bit of his $160 cash payout, SHObaits gift card, Backwater Paddles “Assault Hand Paddle”, and YakAttack Gtsl90 12” GearTrac. Yee also landed the Lake Wylie Bait, Tackle, and Archery “Big Fish,” which was worth $80 and a $50 gift certificate to Lake Wylie Bait, Tackle, and Archery. The $50 gift card for any “Table 301” restaurant made for a great day for our winner!
This month, Scott and I decided to let the winner choose a number in order of registration for our winner of the OnlineTireDeals.com “Tackle of the Month” 13fishing Omen Black Rod! The number Pao Yee chose matched our newest fisherman, Steve Smith! Steve got to choose the rod he wanted and it will be delivered to him. It made my day to see him win a great prize in his first tournament.
I had a blast with these few of days: getting ready, Friday night festivities, and tournament day! I have gotten to the point where just doing everything to get as many people as possible to come out to these tourneys has really fallen to the wayside. It has become more of a big group of friends showing up at the same place at the same time, fishing, talking, and enjoying a great time on the water together! The competition is fun, but the fellowship is priceless!