EuroBass Cup 2007
May 23, 2008
Part Two - Competition
Day One Competition:
I was paired with Francisco Perez. He was one of two brothers that were reported to fish a lot and I was warned to be prepared for possible antics. That fortunately wasn’t the case and we had an enjoyable day’s fishing. At least I did. I had the boat first and directed Francisco up-lake to my chosen area. When we shut down, he grinned and gestured, “How you find?” I simply shrugged my shoulders and took control of the boat.
It was colder that morning and the wind was blowing considerably harder than yesterday afternoon when I was there. I fished for a while without a bite, then caught a short fish and then a pike took my crankbait away from me in a very rude fashion. After pike number two I was not happy. Seems my fish weren’t biting and the pike had moved in, possibly moving my bass out. I continued to fish for a good while longer, trying to figure out what changes I needed to make to get the fish going. Finally, I pulled the trolling motor and motioned Francisco to move us out towards the lake some.
We got out to the mouth of the creek area and I started fishing again. The drop shot paid off with a solid keeper. We fished around the area and Francisco caught a squeezer. Boat control change and Francisco took to the bow but stayed in the area. Apparently, the area I chose was the same area he wanted to fish. I changed tactics and started fishing a split shot rig with a shad shape worm. Wham! Another solid keeper behind Francisco. Now when you caught a fish behind Francisco you can bet you’d be able to fish the spot a second time. That’s because he would spin the boat around and cast to where you just caught a fish. Once he made a few casts, he’d start to move off and you could fish it again.
This would come back to haunt him later in the day.
The fishing was slow for us. I had two in the box and he had two but his two would barely out-weigh one of mine. But if he caught another I could be in trouble and he had control of the boat. We were told in our Team Meeting that if the opposition was in the lead and they had the latter part of the day not to be surprised if we spent the rest of the day down south in the middle of the lake in about 150 ft. of water. At this point Francisco did not have me and he knew it.
With about an hour left, he elected to pull the trolling motor and we headed south. He pulled up to a bluff wall with a sharp point at the mouth of a small cove. The water was 55 – 60 ft deep. He kept me off the point while he fished it intensely. Finally, he moved out and around the point to fish it from the back side. When he did, I noticed what appeared to be a secondary point leading back into the cove. I cast the split shot up onto the point and let is start slow-falling down beside the rocky structure. With nothing else to fish, I simply let it go and when I picked up on it there was weight on the other end - another solid keeper. When I set the hook on the fish, Francisco turned his head back towards me and I said, “Franciiiiissssscccccooooo!”
As I boated the fish, he did his usual spin and made a cast in the direction of my recent catch. He made about 10 casts to the area before moving the boat back to a position where he could fish the main point. Time was running out, he knew it and he was now farther behind than before. I cast to my point again and just let the split shot, shad shape (natural shad) simply fall down beside the rocks, sliding off the edges. Tick! I felt the weight, loaded the rod and said, “Franciiiissssccccoooo!” It was almost more than he could bear and the fish lifted a serious load off my shoulders.
The day’s fishing had been considerably less than what I had anticipated but with only 10 or 15 minutes to go, including a 5 minute run, the odds were firmly in my favor of taking the point for my team. Day one; mission accomplished. Out of the 12 available points up for grabs for the day the score stood at Europeans 1, USA 11. While fishermen are fishermen pretty much across the globe, I am still not sure how much “International Good Will” was forthcoming from our competitors.
We loaded up in the bus and headed back to the hotel. Both teams were on the same bus with a wide range of “attitudes” up and down the aisle. For the most part, we consoled our competition, telling them that tomorrow was another day and they could definitely make a come back.
Back at the hotel we discovered we were scheduled for an “Official Welcoming Ceremony” off the town square at the City Hall/Court House. The town of Zamora is touted as having abundant architecture and structures dating back to the 12th and 14th century. Everything around us, including the narrow (one lane) brick streets was medieval in nature. Don’t get me wrong, it was beautiful but one would not be surprised to see a set of chocks, a gallows or a 2-wheeled oxcart full of hay coming down the street. The Court Room was no less astounding: long, 12-man, heavy wooden tables on both sides of a four chaired head table, wrought iron separations to the gallery, and solid stone walls with arched door ways. I could’ve sworn I was on a movie set but this was the real deal.
The Mayor made a speech, none of which I understood. Then Javier, the tournament organizer and director, gave a speech, again none of which I understood except I thought I heard him say “no names”. Admittedly, I am hard of hearing and I wasn’t completely sure so I turned to one of the guys sitting next to me and asked, “Did he just call us a bunch of no names?” He nodded. That did not set too well with me and I felt a little insulted. I found out later that the Spanish language does not have as many articulating words in it as English does. When he referred to us as “no names” that is interpreted to say “guys that don’t get as much press coverage as some of the previous attendees to the EuroBass Cup”.
What he basically said was, “A bunch of no-name Professional Bass Fishermen have come over here and ‘humiliated’ the European Team”. Now, I don’t propose to be the best writer by more than a long shot but you can bet your bippy that “humiliated” would be the last possible descriptive word I would use regarding any performance. To my surprise, the next day’s paper had the same story and “descriptive” wording in it. I guess being referred to as “no names” isn’t so bad if they are going to be that verbally harsh on their own people.
Day Two Competition:
Day two I was paired with Javier Gullien who is generally acknowledged and considered as their no. 2 guy. How they came up with these rankings was unknown to me but it really didn’t matter. At the end of the day, I considered him a most formidable opponent.
The Europeans had the first half of the day and Javier wasted no time. He didn’t smile once, as I recall, but he was well versed at “front ending”. Prior to the start of competition I’d asked if I had to stay on the back deck while my opponent had control of the boat. The answer was confirmed by the tournament direct that those not in control of the boat would fish only from the back deck. During the first half of the day, Javier had excellent boat placement to keep his opponent from casting to “the good stuff”. He was fishing small rock outcroppings from the bank and I believe I got only one cast on his stuff all morning long. That is until he had caught the fish that were there. By the time boat control changed, he had me down 5 to 1 and I knew I had some work to do.
I had not gone back to the fish I had found the first practice day and hoped no one else had found them. Still, I went to the area I started on the morning of the first day. The pike were still there but the bass had apparently moved out. I was able to boat one really solid keeper off the underwater point I had found. I pulled the trolling motor, told Javier to “vamanos” and pointed to the creek I wished to go to. I got to my area with the underwater point and did a pretty descent job of boat control on Javier but the wind was swirling back in the area due to the high rock walls on three sides. I quickly boated a third solid keeper but in the process of landing and putting the fish in the live well allowed the boat to be blown too close to the point and Javier managed to get one.
He culled. This is not what I intended and I silently griped at myself for letting him get too close, especially considering how he had pinned me all morning long. A few minutes later, the split shot, shad shape rig produced another solid fish. I fought the fish to the boat all the while having the trolling motor on high pushing the boat off the point.
Javier was concerned - I had more than an hour left. I methodically worked the rugged drop off of the point focusing on two different large boulders that rose up to within a few feet of the surface. I made a cast right up next to one of the boulders and could feel the split shot sliding down the side of it. About 10 or 12 feet down it stopped. I picked up and felt the weight, loaded the rod and set the hook. A minute or so later, my largest fish of the two days of competition was in the boat in Javier’s net. As he swung the fish in the boat, he basically pitched the net down into the pit uttering something disdainful in Spanish. I don’t know what he said and I don’t care. He was down and he knew it. One look in the live wells confirmed his distain. I did not take him out to the middle of the lake but kept on fishing. I boated another descent keeper but one that would not help my cause. We left the spot with no more time remaining to fish. Day two, mission accomplished. Score: Europeans 1, USA 11
At this point there were no words of encouragement for the Europeans, there was not another day of competition for them to make a “come back”. They had just been handed the worst defeat they had ever suffered since the inception of the EuroBass Cup (Europeans 2, Team USA 22) and it had been dealt to them by “a bunch of no names”.
As we headed back to Zamora, for the most part the atmosphere was more light- hearted than the day before. The tournament was over and whether you liked the outcome or not, it was set in stone. The EuroBass Cup is really a big deal with those guys and it means a lot to them. They wanted to beat the American Anglers so bad they could taste it. A few would not participate in conversation and a couple of them were down right “ticked”. Their pride was hurt and they did not like it one bit, but that’s the way it was.
Day seven, Thursday, was an off day. No practicing, no tournament just a day to rest, relax or go on a scheduled field trip to the neighboring town of Salamanca. The bus ride was that day was better, most of the wounded had licked their wounds and recovered. The town of Salamanca is nothing less than awesome. I could try to explain but even as I walked through the town I was really at a loss for words not knowing how I would convey what I saw to everyone back home through the media of printed material. The pictures I took do not do justice to the buildings and art work. I guess you gotta be there and witness the surroundings one on one to really appreciate the work these people did centuries ago with technology far beneath what we have today. The accomplishments are astounding and while constructed hundreds of years ago, the structures are still standing today looking as strong as they ever could have.
The sculptured art work in the shrines was amazing. Our country is just a little over 200 years old and we do not have this type of architecture, buildings and sculptures dating back five, six and even eight hundred years ago. Back on the bus and back to Zamora. We rested an hour or so and then loaded back on the bus for a distant dinner spot. During dinner, we were paired up once again. This time, one European with one American for a team tournament to be held the next day. This was a “benefit” type tournament and the teams comprised from our group were only part of the total team participation. I was paired with Sergio Longas from Portugal. He spoke pretty good English so we were able to communicate easily.
Friday dawned relatively cold and windy. I headed back to my little underwater point and boulders - my day two opponent was already there. We moved on down the creek fishing but really just waited for him to leave. I did not see him catch a fish and he finally pulled up the trolling motor and left. We fished our way up to the point and within a few minutes I caught one larger than any I’d caught previously during the competition. But these were not large fish. The big fish of the competition was only a little over 4 pounds, but when that is all you have seen (except the 5+ I saw during practice) for five days a 3.5 looks pretty good.
At the end of the day we’d only boated a total of three fish and did not do very well in the Team event. I wasn’t too disappointed as I had set my goal to get my team’s point both days of the EuroBass Cup competition and had been able to achieve my goal with a little extra gravy by finishing in 3rd place of the individual overall competition. We were due to leave Zamora early the next morning to transfer Valladolid where we would provide Public Relations and Seminars for the “Semana Iberica” (Outdoor Show) being held in conjunction with the EuroBass Cup.
Saturday found us checking out early, boarding the bus and on to Valladolid. I was able to get my seminar done on Saturday which meant I did not have to bring rods and reels back down on Sunday. We mixed and mingled at the Show both Saturday and Sunday doing the typical “show” duties.
Sunday afternoon was a “get together” set up in an area above the Outdoor Show for the European and American Teams. It was our farewell to the European Team. Handshakes and pleasantries were exchanged along with a short conversation with Javier (my day two opponent) in which he said, “You can take your split shot rig and those two boulders with you as you go home,” or so it was interpreted that way by our interpreter. I really didn’t know exactly how to take that but at least he finally smiled.
Sunday night we attended a special farewell dinner for the USA Team hosted by Javier Galiana (tournament organizer and director) and Cidalia Alves dos Santos (his assistant). Javier and Cidalia had been gracious hosts the entire time we were there and we thanked them for their hospitality. Each Team member provided Javier with one of his own “Show Shirts” for Javier’s collection. We had advance notice of this custom and expectation prior to leaving the US. Javier collects these shirts/jerseys and frames them.
Monday we were on a bus to Madrid to catch our flight back home. We had some difficulties along the way when one of the Team Members (name intentionally withheld as I have no authorization) had some sort of heart trouble en route. We had to stop and get an ambulance out to the middle of nowhere to treat and check him out. They got him stabilized and we continued on our way watching him very closely. He and his significant other stayed another day or two in Madrid before boarding a plane back home. I checked on him a week or so later and was told he was doing well and I hope that remains the same as he is a nice guy. We got to the airport with no, and I mean no time left to get boarded. Fortunately, Javier and Cidalia had called ahead and told the airlines of our plight and some how arranged for us to basically “fly” through the process of baggage checking and boarding.
Back on the ground in Houston, I shared all of this with my wife when she picked me up from the airport. Before we got home, we are going to stop and eat. Since I had left the US we had not had any beef whatsoever. Their diet consists of bread, potatoes and pork prepared in various ways. We did have lamb a couple of times but pork and potatoes comprised the mainstay of the menu. We stopped at a Steak House and I had a rib eye that never tasted better.
Team USA Members:
O.T. Fears (Team Captain)
Several of the Anglers brought their wives or significant others with them on the trip. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Scheide and Mrs. Youngers for helping me with the camera and pictures. Others may have helped and if so and I did not mention you, I apologize. Without their help, I would not have been able to get most of the pictures of the weigh-in and team photos.
Charlie Hammack is sponsored by:
The Father, Son & Holy Spirit
Bass Cat Boats
MinnKota Trolling Motors
Abu Garcia Reels
Stealth Battery Charging System
Gary Yamamoto Custom Baits