Yanny (Haynes) or Laurel (Lambert)?

photo courtesy of flwfishing.com

photo courtesy of flwfishing.com

By now, most of you pro fishing nuts have probably heard about what happened at Kentucky Lake this past weekend during Day Three of an FLW Tour event. Here are the facts not in dispute or question:

·        Randy Haynes led after both Day One and Day Two.

·        Jason Lambert was in 2nd place heading into Day Three

·        Lambert arrived at a mutual starting spot prior to Haynes on Day Three.

·        Haynes got frustrated, left, and trailered his boat, taking a goose egg for the day.

As with most controversies, those of us on the outside will never have a true and comprehensive set of facts with which to analyze the situation. Even if we were to sit the two anglers down in front of us, inject them with a truth serum, and then grill on what happened, there’d still probably be all sorts of gray. Nevertheless, the armchair anglers among us still can’t refrain from opining on the matter.

Most of the opinions seem to fall into three basic categories:

·        Hey, rubbing rails is the way the game was played amongst the big boys, particularly in offshore derbies. Haynes was a wimp and a crybaby to pull up stakes; or

·        Lambert wasn’t in the lead, and should have ceded the spot to the leader; or

·        There must be bad blood between the two anglers.

The opinions I read and heard weren’t tentative or questioning. They were resolute. If you were in Camp A or B or C, you weren’t going to back down even in the face of evidence to the contrary. It’s the hyperpartisan way of the world these days – we choose a side and then stick to it no matter what. I’d posit that the strong opinions reflected the offerors’ prejudices and preferences just as much as – if not more – than the actual facts at Kentucky Lake.

I’m not immune to this type of predetermined thinking. My first conclusion after hearing the story was that this was Kentucky Lake, during (the beginning) of the annual ledge fishing extravaganza – of course there were going to be squabbles. We see them every year when anglers fight for the juice, and both competitors and spectators on the Tennessee River system have a reputation for questionable morals and operating in the gray area. I only need think back to the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Guntersville to reinforce this belief. On Day Two of that event I was tasked with following and writing about first day leader Randall Tharp. As he left his starting spot, some spectators moved in and graphed it. Others started fishing there. Combined with all of the rumor and innuendo I’ve heard about battles and misdeeds elsewhere on the system.

Both Lambert and Haynes are veterans of that system, so it might be accurate that it was a “cultural” squabble, but it might’ve just been bad blood between the two of them. Or maybe Haynes had something bad going on in his life that’s not being exposed. There’s usually more to the story in these “he said, he said” disagreements, even when there’s video evidence. There’s nothing wrong with offering an educated opinion, but sometimes the opinion reflects more about the person offering it than about the facts in evidence.