In November of 1997, I was a third-year associate at a law firm, spending ridiculous hours working on a financially substantial ratemaking matter before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The case was reaching a boiling point that fall, which was not a problem for my ledger of billable hours, but nevertheless caused me great angst because I had qualified to fish as a co-angler at the FLW Championship (before its name had been changed to the Forrest Wood Cup) on Lake Ferguson in Greenville, Mississippi.
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.
While I was in Texas in November, Clark Reehm and I fished Rayburn on a day when it was in the high 40s with consistent rain. I’ve figured out solutions to wet super cold days (tall insulated gore-tex boots) and days when it’s over 70 are no problem (flip flops or sandals if it’s warm enough, and waterproof sneakers if it’s not), but a mid-range frog drencher has always been a problem. If you wear the insulated boots, your feet’ll sweat, and if you go with the low tops you’re going to have some water find its way in, with an end result of misery.
Any casual fishing fan can name the marquee figures of the sport – tournament champs like KVD, media kings like Mark Zona, and innovators like Gary Yamamoto – but behind the scenes there exists a network of “connectors” who bring the whole deal together without sharing in any of the glory. My friend Clifford Wiedman is one of those “glue guys.”
I am exceptionally proud of the fact that I haven’t ordered any tackle in months, including during the five day period in October when I was stuck at home following sinus surgery. Of course, bragging about my monastic spending habits rings a little bit hollow when I admit that I ordered a new boat and 250 horsepower Mercury during that supposed hiatus.
My one major regret from last year’s three week sojourn to Southern Africa was that I didn’t get a chance to fish for bass. I know that seems odd because even though they’re spread all over the globe bass seem to be the quintessentially American sportfish and I live in their home territory. Nevertheless, I always want to be on the forefront of both emerging fisheries and fisheries that are peaking and countries like Botswana and Mozambique seem primed to explode as destinations for the well-heeled bass traveler.