The world of sports is full of the folks that want the experience of being a pro, thus most all major sports operate a fantasy camp. These camps are designed to give you the experience of being a pro, for the weekend. You get to hang out in the locker room, play on the field and use all the facilities the big club uses. You are granted the feeling of being big time. This last weekend the Texas Kayak Bass Open Championship was held on Lake Houston County. This gave me the opportunity to feel like a big time bass pro. I spent weeks preparing, got to make a three hour drive to a lake that I have never fished and to also meet new and exciting people in the world of kayak bass fishing. The entire event went off without a hitch it was an excellent time.
I always enjoy discovering new thing and fishing new techniques. For the open championship I had received some information that the quality fish were holding in 12 – 15 feet and were right up against timber. Thursday afternoon I hit the water and used this pattern. In ½ day of fishing it didn’t disappoint, rendering 18” fish, right after another. My concern was that I didn’t have enough 10” Rage Tails to finish the weekend. I decided it was time to roll in a see if others had made it in. I called it a day and left them biting. Day 1 = Success and I was pumped.
It wouldn’t be a tournament without good food and great company. I had the privilege of sharing a room with Kayak Legend, Shaun Russell and Rod Building extraordinaire, Walker Nelson, and Media Giant, Chris Payne. We had an excellent time talking strategy, eating good food and just blowing off the hassles of life for couple days. As the night wore on more folks started coming up and it gave me the great pleasure of meeting the guys from Austin. I really like that crowd because they are diehards for the sport. It’s real cool to put out an open invite for an afternoon fish and have twenty guys show up with short notice. Congrats guys on the way you’re living the life down in the Cap City! Now time to sack out and get ready for the all day pre-fish.
Friday came and we were up with a bang! We all decided on 5:30, but as is when you’re excited it turned to 4:45. No worries, lot of gear to haul down to the ramp. Guess we weren’t the only folks that we ready because the water glowed with the looks of SuperNova Lights. Man these are very and definitely going to have to invest. Loaded gear and decided to try a different pattern for the morning. Word had it that there were large schools of big bass that hammer the shad right at first light. Enough said, I was on it! Hauled over to the spot, thanks to K.J. for the intel, but it didn’t happen for me. I quickly decided to dance with the one that brought me and head back to the timber. First flip and BAM, another 18” the pattern held all day and at the end of the day I was on 92”. What a day. I was already thinking of what I was going to do with all the prizes. I should have known that the end was near.
Saturday, D-Day, started with a calm fog over the lake. I figured this is different, but I didn’t sweat it. I pedaled the Hobie Pro Angler 14 right to the spot and waited on 6:00. Still no wind and began to get concerned. Time to fish so I attached to 10” Rage Tail and started flipping, by the 5th flip I had hooked and boated a nice 15” fish. I hate fishing in the dark, fumbling for the board, securing the fish, taking the photo. However, everything went great and I was stoked to be on the board. I had grand visions. I released the fish and then had the moment of sure panic. Did I or Did I not have the ID card in the picture? I fished for the camera and son of a gun no ID, means not on the board and back to square 1. The morning yielded little other than rain, sun, light wind and calm. This effectively shut my pattern down and I knew I was toasted. I managed two keepers, with ID, and a ton of 10-12” fish. I realized that I
had put the eggs all in one basket and that doomed my day when the conditions changed. I was now looking forward to weigh in and the long drive home.
The overall experience was great. Bobby Clark did an excellent job as tournament director and I thought it was one of the better kayak events that I have attended. I remembered my thoughts of fantasy camp on the way home. For two and a half days I was a pro angler and I had checked all the boxes for a good a time: Friends, new experiences and success. Although I didn’t win it was worth the price of admission. Congrats to the winners and as Arnold says, “I will be back!”
KEEP LIVING THE DREAM!