I just spent five whirlwind days in Texas, fishing three different lakes with four different Classic qualifiers – Clark Reehm, Keith Combs, Albert Collins and Lonnie Stanley. Frankly, I’ve always believed that bass fishing sucks throughout much of the country in November, but the bass in the eastern part of the Lone Star State must not have gotten the memo, because the numbers of fish were absolutely insane, and while my hosts kept complaining about the lack of big ones I really didn’t notice (we collectively landed a seven, several sixes, and a whole bunch of fives). Any one of the days would’ve been my best day on the water in Virginia this year, if not ever.
I suppose there’s a bit of bragging in that last paragraph, but I hope that readers will take my word for it that that was not the primary intent. Anyone who’s spent some time around me knows that I gripe about certain aspects of my life more than I should. Primarily, it’s because my schedule is a carefully-orchestrated tightrope due to the fact that I have a full-time 50 hour a week job, and then have elected to pile on top of that a completely voluntary 20-25 hour per week second job as a writer. I get home in the evening, eat a quick dinner with my wife Hanna, and then get on the horn and to the computer to start asking a bunch of pros about their tactics and a bunch of googans about their near misses. While it’s mostly a labor of love, there are definitely times when I feel pangs of jealousy thinking about my one-jobbed friends sitting at home in their Archie Bunker chairs downing some cold Michelob Ultras, Zimas or vodka tonics while I’m stuck grinding out another 1,200 words.
Then a week like this past one comes along and it makes every moment of talking about shakey heads and parabolic rods worth the effort. If I was just Pete Robbins, bass clubber and weekend jackleg, there’s no way I would’ve had many of the experiences I’ve enjoyed. I’ve practiced with KVD, been the closest boat to the Classic champ when he caught the winning fish on multiple occasions, and spent hours on the phone listening to A Mart. I realized early on that I was probably never going to be a Bassmaster Classic champion myself, just as I figured out pretty quickly that I would never roam center field for the Yankees or occupy the Oval Office, but if something’s important to you there’s no reason you can’t get access or proximity to it. The same years of schooling that led me to the desk-bound life that I curse so freely have given me an opportunity to hobnob with the movers and shakers in my favorite pastime.
With me, it was totally accidental. All of this happened organically, and looking back I’m surprised that it came together as easily as it did. Nevertheless, to the extent that I can be a good role model for anyone, this is what I have to offer. It doesn’t matter if you want to be in the music industry, or in the inner-circle of the NASCAR world, or a breeder of champion Siamese cats, or anything else. You almost certainly have some special skill, or something to offer, that gives you entry even if you can’t play a note, drive a car or get your pets to get it on.
The next time you hear me complain about some fisherman not calling me back, or an editor who demands too much on an exceptionally tight deadline, or the crappy pay rates that many of my jobs command – you have carte blanche to whack me upside the head, or at the very least remind me about the 400 bass that I saw come into the boat on this most recent trip.