I have been the fishing team sponsor at my school now going on our 5th year. I love to fish, have been doing it all my life. But recreational fishing and competitive fishing are two very different animals.
I have been learning that as an observer for a while and I have enjoyed doing the work as team sponsor for our school. Getting the signed up, ordering jerseys, putting teachers in front of them, getting a practice lake set up, organizing boats captains and teams, finding opportunities ... all of that has been enjoyable.
But a boat captain myself in a 200 boat tournament? I would have said "No way" even a year ago.
I didn't even have a vessel license a year ago. I have fished out of the 'back of the boat' my whole life and have been fine with that.
But when a parent gave us use of a bass boat 2 years ago- I knew I needed to begin the process and it has been an excellent task for me- an enjoyable and challenging one- but one where I have found a lot of satisfaction.
I wrote on how much getting this boat in good working condition did for me previously:
But this year has been amazing. After hours and days of practice, getting ready, I have finally taken a boat with 2 young guys through a tournament season. So far we have done a B.A.S.S. regional at Lay Lake, an ASABFA regional qualifier at Pickwick, and another ASABFA qualifier at Logan Martin- every one has had over 200 boats- and we did it!
I used to feel sorry for the dads who were boat captains- all day in a boat and no fishing!- are you kidding me?
But it is a great experience- it is a fun challenge to put the boat in, blast off, run to spots, check in, weigh in, take out, and enjoy the ministry that water and nature can do.
We have had a great season with our team this year- I think at Logan Martin we had five boats catch about 80 fish total and all weighed in their 5 fish limit.
So what was it like? Pretty cool!
Here is what a typical weekend has been like:
FRIDAY- a pre-fishing fun time- testing out the boat and water. Friday night tournament meetings take place and you receive your boat number which gives the order of the blast off and your check-in time to return. Friday night late is last minute prep- you HAVE to be ready to go EARLY tomorrow!
We usually want to be on the water no later than 5:20- so that means starting EARLY... being in line to launch a boat with 200 others is chaos and fun! Thankfully, we all pitch in and have a routine... everyone needs to ask.... DID WE PUT THE PLUG IN? Did we take off the back straps? among other important reminders....
This is a very cool time for me. The beauty of the sun coming up...even if you are extremely cold.. all the navigation lights.. the music, the prayer, the national anthem is great to me.
BLAST- OFF- Safe Daylight (6:15 to 6:30 AM is usual)
This is the crazy time.... running and gunning to that first stop - hoping no other boat is there and hoping it pays off for an early morning bite.
NETTING/ CULLING FISH
As a boat captain- I can't fish.. which is the hardest part of being a boat captain... but I stay active looking at the fish finding navionics, netting fish (when allowed), keeping the boat organized and helping in the culling after you get 5.
CHECKING IN/WEIGHING IN/ PULLING OUT
Racing back to make your weigh in time can be a challenge- you want to see if you can catch one more fish to cull. You don't want to be in TOO early and you cannot afford to be late!
If we have a really good bag, I probably would wait to take out after weigh in- but normally I have been turning the guys loose to weigh in and then just take the boat out myself.
THE END OF THE DAY
"Tired" does not begin to describe how I feel on Saturday night... but to see how excited these young people get and how much fun they have is well worth it!
This is a good sport for a young person... it is not easy... it take a lot of knowledge, practice, and skill. But it is great to see them really grow as tournament fishermen... I have seen some of our guys become outstanding over their high school careers.
My biggest request would be prayers for safety.... weather, water, boating, hauling a trailer, nature... it keeps you praying and cautious.... pray for no mechanical failures of truck, trailer, or boat...
Overall- it has been a great blessing and fun!