Digress: To me the big deal about qualifying again was that arguably anyone (well…maybe not “anyone”…take my buddy Jack for example!) could get lucky and qualify once either by just lucking into finding some fish or being lucky in who you drew that day as a boat partner. However, to qualify more than once you had to be good…no one was going to be that lucky twice. This was my third attempt in three years having qualified on my first attempt but coming up short by just a few ounces on my second attempt the year before. I was going for "2 out 3".
The next day found the storm gone and a bright blue sky with temperatures close to 100 degrees! It was going to be a long day.
As for me…I never gave up.
My desire to make the team for a second time was so great that I just kept fishing…HARD…in fact, harder than I had ever fished before in my life. If you have never fished at a competitive level you won’t understand…if you have…you will. It was tough…it was hot, no breeze, high muddy water and (understandably) no one was catching fish.
I turned to the guy sharing my boat with me that day and made a simple statement…and I will never forget it. I said, “Seems like every guy in this tournament has caught a 5lb bass but me. It should be my turn”. Of course that wasn’t true…in fact, there are not many actual 5lb bass weighed in tournaments period. It was just a moment of high intensity pressure and frustration. The clock had about "ticked" out of time for me and my bid to become a two-time state qualifier.
At the exact moment I made that comment I flipped a large black 10” plastic worm into a flooded tree…got a bite (you couldn’t feel it, but I saw the line ‘jump’ just a small fraction)…I set the hook.
As I set the hook I knew I had to immediately force him out of the tree…I had less than 5ft line out and my flippin’ stick was 7ft long. You do the math!
My boat partner had grabbed the net and, while the fish was still suspended in mid-air, slipped the net under him. I gave some slack to the line and the fish literally dropped into the net.
That 5lb.4oz bass was the largest bass caught in the BASS Federation Kansas state championship that year!!
Footnote: Our Kansas team went on to compete in the World Championship that summer and finished in the top 10...! However, a much more important thing was occurring at the same time. An African country called Rhodesia had just experienced a military takeover. As a result Rhodesia no longer exists as a country. Today it's called Zimbabwe. A military uprising between waring factions led to thousands of deaths and eventually a complete overthrowing of the governement.
Those events occured at the same time of the World Championship and one of the teams was from the African nation of Rhodesia. These 6-men were given permission to come to the United States to fish the World Championship. What the governement didn't know was that these brave men smuggled a few items with the name "Rhodesia" still on them to the States...at great personal risk.
Why was it such a risk? Because had they been caught...they would have been killed...! These men from Rhodesia disobeyed the new government mandate to destroy anything (including money) that had the name "Rhodesia" on it. Anyone found with articles containing the name "Rhodesia" instead of "Zimbabwe" were immediately executed...!!!
I was extremely blessed to get to share a boat for three days with one of these brave men from Africa during the World Championship. Afterwords, he presented me with three articles from their now destroyed nation...a BASS Federation Label Pin...an Annual Fishing License label pin, and a One-day Fishing License label pin... ALL WITH THE NAME "RHODESIA" ON THEM...A COUNTRY THAT NO LONGER EXISTS TODAY...!!!
Never Give Up on Your Dreams...NEVER...even when others do...even when things seem the darkest...even when others tell you to...even when you think you should...even when your current reality says you can't make it...NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS...EVER...!
Until next time…go fishing…keep some to eat…turn back the rest…check back in soon.
Web Site: http://www.KansasFisherman.com