Top shelf

QUIET on the rooftop during practice period.

While bruises and muscle strains have yet to heal, the U.S. Open is now in the rear view mirror. A third, three-time winner, Clifford Pirch, has been crowned (joining Hall of Famer Mike Folkestad and angling savant Aaron Martens in that achievement) yet everyone who was there, all 330-plus anglers, will take something home.

Gratefully, I’m bringing my boat home, intact, after a harrowing ride in the final 12 minutes of the opening day. A broken locker latch, trolling motor prop and tie-down and my cell phone were the primary victims.

Someone said they saw us desperately trying to make it to check-in on time (“You got air,” were his words) but while I heard the engine over-rev and my partner howl, all I really felt was my tail bone cracking the seat a half a dozen times on landing. But we made it–right on the minute.

Not enough of these

NOT ENOUGH of these in my box. Caught mostly smallmouth.

As for the fishing, it matched practice for the drop-shot bite (Robo’s baitball and hologram shad the most reliable) I never saw the grass pocket bite that several did, and only got one 2-pounder on a Phenix spinnerbait. The once-reliable, 4-inch swimbait and an assortment of topwater baits netted exactly no fish for my tournament.

As for the tenor of the event, I don’t have a lot to say. A very big field and some prominent national pros were on hand, but frankly, until I got back to California, I didn’t see the standings. When my phone was working, I got a message that I was holding down 106th place, but did climb up the ladder by the end.

A hint of the right pattern

POCKETS with grass (if you fished enough of them) seemed to have larger fish.

There were some memorable moments before the contest. For one, Don Iovino’s farewell to major tournaments, where he was most gracious and humble, wishing well to all the competitors. A younger generation may not appreciate Don’s contribution to sonar structure fishing, but he is a historic angling figure–and one that I covered from the time he first entered the bass fishing ranks.

nice keepsake

KEEPSAKE Reactor Watch will stay in my office.

Also, in an age where “electronic devices” (and don’t I know how lonely it can be without your iPhone) have supplanted traditional time pieces, I was pleased to receive one of the limited edition Reactor sport watches for early entry. Featuring U.S. Open appropriate red, white and blue trim, it will be displayed in my office as a reminder I was there for the what, 32nd annual competition?

As for my AAA partners, I want to mention Chang Won Park, Aaron Scott and Ellison Hubbard who, respectively, rode with me in the red Nitro. Easy to work with, very capable anglers and good sports. And to their credit, all three finished in the top 40 spots of their division.

Iovino tribute

SOUVENIR hat remembering Don’s final major tournament.

One last thing, as I just peeked in the garage where the boat is airing out with all the lids up. Two firsts for me this year were making it back with no time to spare and also having to rely on the service truck. I can’t describe the relief from anxiety of just getting back, 5 pounds or no. (I actually told my partner we were not going to make it).

And then, when I pulled up to the Anglers Marine service vehicle, Jordan and crew replaced the trolling motor prop, repositioned the head on the shaft, greased the bracket and tightened the screws under the rub rail that had pounded loose–all in less than five minutes.

I don’t hold it against those guys that they didn’t have a replacement trolling motor strap–you know, the stainless steel “buckle” is not supposed to break. That it did gives you some idea of the impact of those final 10 minutes to the finish line.

So yeah, wish I had done a little better. Wish I was a little faster. And if life allows, I hope I’ll get another shot at this one-of-a-kind tournament.

 

 

 

 




7 Responses to “U.S. Open: parting shots, gifts and thoughts”


Was great seeing you out there competing. It didn’t matter what size of boat you had in those rough conditions… everyone was soaked and needed some sort of chiropractic adjustment by the time they hit the check in boat.

GOOD JOB GEORGE! YOU PUT YOUR BOAT ON THE FISH AND HAD A GOOD SHOWING FOR YOUR BOAT AND YOUR AAA’S. I WISH I WAS AS YOUNG AS YOU SO I COULD TRY IT, I THINK MY BODY WOULD JUST BREAK UP INTO LITTLE PIECES IN THAT KIND OF WEATHER.

George ~ You did very well with the day 1 conditions just like you did with the 2012 conditions. It is always a pure pleasure to spend a moment with you. You truly are a man of unquestionable character. I look forward to your visit again next year.

by Scott Robertson

George, good job I have been in the nasty weather up there and don’t wish it on anyone.
soaked at lake mead is an everyday condition.

Of course, it’s never all one thing, and that adds to the challenge of Mead. Rough conditions, followed by breezy and partly cloudy, followed by hot and glassy. You hope your practice gives you enough options and then you hope you respond to what’s in front of you. And then when it’s over, you think, “I’d like another shot.” Thanks to all for the support! 🙂

Thanks for the mention George. I had a great time. I would be honored to fish with you any time. Hope to see you out there again next year.

Good read.
Yep….just what you said on 9/15.