By Allen Hamrick
Hey folks, Lew here. Have ya ever tried tourney fishin’? It is an event like no other, team against team and boat against boat. Twelve hours of nonstop reel burnin’ except for the occasional cold chicken leg and Diet Coke to keep your strength up. Keeping a box of Swiss Rolls at hand keeps your mind focused when the fish ain’t bitin’. Let’s face it, even the pros don’t catch ‘em all the time, and they will tell ya a chocolate covered, cream filled cake roll is just what the fishin’ doctor ordered. Preparin’ is key to catchin’ bass in a big tourney. Ya have to know how to fish; not too many line slingers get their live well full of bucket mouth bubba mama’s by just being lucky. Ya get them by knowin’ what you’re doing, and nobody likes going home empty handed, so practice. We like going to those two day big money tourneys where the biggest bass wins a king’s ransom, you’re crowned king of the lake fer a year, plus a ton of other prizes.
We decided one day at Pap’s Barbershop that we were gonna go to a bass tourney. It was a two day event with 1200 other fellers like us trying to get that crown. We decided we would take on the challenge and would split the bacon three ways. We prepared well. We rigged our reels with new line and had our special time tested baits secured by a palyomar knots at the ends of the line. One of Pap’s neighbors lent us a 16 foot Dory Jon boat, an’ we went to work on it, transforming it into a fully rigged basser boat complete with a big cooler live well, fishin’ platforms and a beetle bug steerin’ wheel. It was an official, drivable bass fishin’ boat. The power supply was a tough 52 model 25 horsepower Evinrude motor we knew would take the fight to the bass so long as we could get the oil leak fixed. The lake was the size of Ohio, 27 miles long from the dam to the rivers, and you couldn’t even see the other side.
The boat was officially named The Ark II in a ceremony by the wives using a gallon glass jug of buttermilk that knocked a hole in the side of the boat when they hit it. They seemed to enjoy the idea of getting rid of us fer a week and laughed all the way home. We were proud of the boat; we could fit the three of us plus all our gear and our chicken buckets and it would rest in only an inch of water. The Dodge Power Wagon had no problem pulling the heavy load, but we would have to win the tourney to get back. That truck drunk gas like Geezer Lumens downs a jug of moonshine. We sure was a spectacle heading’ down the road. The pipes were singing the 318 tune, a bucket of cold chicken legs was opened, cold pop was washing’ it down and Charlie Daniels was jamming’ on the radio.
We got to the lake and set up camp. I dropped Zebu and Bigfoot off at the pier and waited for them to get back to camp. I waited and waited, and then I saw Zebu stuck and drifting’ around the edge of the lake. I guess the old’ Evinrude couldn’t handle all the excitement and needed some TLC. All was good after some tinkering’, and the smell of Spam sizzling’ in the frying pan made it even better. After filling our bellies on Spam and peanut butter sandwiches, we made plans on doin’ some pre-fishin’. We had three days to find where the bucket mouths were hidin’ before the tournament started. So, out came the map, and we cogitated ‘bout where we was a goin’. The three days went well; we only ran out of fuel one time, and thank goodness for Sears Die Hard batteries. The bass were located and some stripers were caught for the evening meals. The day before the tournament, we polished up our gear, changing line, and sharpenin’ the hooks. The day turned to night, and it was time to hit the sack. Tomorrow we were gonna fill our pockets with cash.
It all changed in an instant! About 1:00 in the morning while we wuz sleepin’ an’ Big Foot wuz snorin’, a tornado reared its head and hit a town nearby. The rain came and the wind blew and would have blew the tent clean to Texas had we not set Big Foot’s boots on the corners of the tent. The level of the lake started to rise and water started to get deeper in the tent. Big Foot took his snorin’ to a new level … snorin’ under water. He was breathing out of one side of his mouth until he snorted and inhaled water and nearly choked to death. The water was about six inches deep when we abandoned the tent for the Dodge Power Wagon. The next morning the storm was still slingin’ lightning bolts, cracking thunder and dumping rain. The lake had raised 20 feet during the night, and six foot waves were patrollin’ the main lake that now looked like the ocean. We looked around the the other camps, and their boats were sunk. Ours was nowhere in sight. Then we caught sight of it – it was dry as toast under the trees on the other side of the cove. Zeb jumped in the boat with lightnin’ bolts crackin’ in the trees and hollered at us, “Come on boys, the fish are bitin’! With that, we turned the boat onto the main lake with the rain pouring down, and the Evinrude was doin’ all it could. We turned the front of the boat into the wind and told Zeb to set on the front to hold that end of the boat down. That’s when a giant 6 foot wave … Tune in next week for the dramatic ending.