When I leave my house to head out to fish the Potomac River, I make a right turn out of the driveway, a left turn at the first intersection, and about a quarter mile down the road there is a flagpole with a massive American flag. That’s my first sign of how the day will go. If it’s standing perpendicular to the pole, straightened by a brisk wind, I know that I am about to get my 48-year-old back pounded into submission.
I met Jeff Teague at my first bass club meeting in early September of 1995, on the night that Cal Ripken passed Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive Major League games played. I was 25 and he was somewhere in his mid-30s and he knew far more about fishing than I did. It doesn’t seem all that long ago, but we’ve run a lot of water through the livewells since then. Ripken has been retired for 17 years. We’re still fishing.
I’ve been getting consistently published in bass magazines and on related websites for over a dozen years now, so even though I sometimes still feel like an absolute rookie, I guess that makes me an old salt. I came into the gig accidentally, with no contacts and no journalism experience, so I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way.
As I approach my 49th birthday in February, I’m pretty certain that I’m past the halfway the point of my life. Even if I’m not run over by a bus, killed by some woman’s jealous husband, or burned in a freak kiln accident, basic actuarial tables tell me that there’s a pretty good chance I’ve got about 30 trips around the sun until I’m worm food.
After a one-year hiatus, the Peteys, my year-end awards gala for the professional bass fishing industry, is back with a vengeance. After six years of Price Waterhouse, hanging chads (Morgenthaler/Grigsby/Pipkens/Brauer), Steve Harvey gaffes and minor tabulation scandals, we didn’t know if we’d be allowed to return, but one ankle bracelet later and it’s time to hand out some awards.
I haven’t been to Mexico since June, and I’m starting to feel a little bit itchy over the whole deal. I miss the fishing, the food, the people and the weather. I had one day available to fish in the past week and it was this Saturday, when the mercury didn’t rise above 31 degrees, so I elected to stay home.
Some years the tour level offseason seems unbearably long, but this time around it has been mercifully short, largely due to the fact that we’ve had an unprecedented amount of tournament news over the past couple of months. It wasn’t on-the-water news, but it kept us tuned to the internet nonetheless.