I'm always up to a challenge! Competition isn't always just about placing top, it’s also about topping your own scores!
I recently competed in the Kayak Fishing Classics Series - Johnson Outdoors Classic THREE DAY Tournament. You log your catches using the app iAnglerTournament. You take a picture of your fish and then log it right then. PROBLEM.....Taking photos with your touch screen phone with wet hands is a PAIN IN THE BOOTY! You’re already anxious to get the photo and then you have to deal with wiping your hands after getting the fish on the board! Even after complaining about it...it’s still really convenient. I brought my Ocean Kayak Trident 13. Due to high wind forecasts and me fishing this event solo, it would be the best choice for me. I am able to stand and maneuver easily to take photos, carry or drag it as needed, lol, and I can fit the huge measuring board on the front with no problem. Perfect setup.
....Arrive to campsite in the evening, setup tent and get to store for food and drinks for 3 days. Eat, sleep. Wake up all night as trains pass by blowing the horns for the entire time. What the hell is wrong with them!!!
... Wake up sleepy. Finally get on the water around 8am. Paddle out while avoiding the vicious herds of manatees. After about 20 minutes out on the water, I'm completely in a fog bank. Visibility sucks so I paddle as close to shore as I can so I don’t get hit by a boat, so I just anchor and relax. Finally it clears and I start moving up the bank only to find dolphins feeding in front of me. Well this sucks. BUT after a few minutes luckily I start catching small reds and trout, whew! I kept going up the shore into the wind so I can enjoy a nice drift back to launch. NOPE, by around 11:30 the wind is ripping. It’s getting sketchy so I decide I better work my way back. (Safety first) I made it back to the ramp in record time (NOONISH). Unfortunately my whole drift back was ruined by the wind. At the launch I ran into a few other competitors that had a hell of a time with the wind, we were swapping stories and laughing a bit. I felt pretty good leaving the launch after hearing what the others caught. So I check the leaderboard and holy crap a few people got into really nice fish!! I can't quit....time to load up the kayak and hit another spot. My next spot produced nothing but more vicious manatee herds (kidding about vicious, of course) and wind. I just can’t escape the wind. I leave that location late afternoon. Pick up ear plugs, get back to camp, eat, shower, sleeping by 8:30, lol.
… wake up at 4:45 feeling very refreshed. Today I’m meeting up with my friend Wade (who is also in the competition) to fish an area I haven’t been. Risky move for me, but I’m really looking forward to hanging with him and exploring. Beautiful area to explore but by noon we weren't’t producing anything other than a bazillion small trout. Wade called it a day. I checked the scoreboard and holy crap I need to pick things up. I can’t quit…time to load up and move. Stop at CVS for some ALEVE, grab fast lunch, back to the water. There was a spot I have been “eyeing” for quite awhile. It seemed I may escape the high winds there by staying close to shore. I arrive and find a few competitors leaving saying they weren't’t catching. BLAH. Well, I’m feeling it, so I’m going for it. I try to convince a fellow Ocean Kayaker and competitor from Orlando, Hernan Lezama, that he should stay and fish, I almost had him staying, lol! He was going to rest and try again later.
I paddle out and after a few casts I felt it, something BIG! It had to be a nice red, but NOOOOO it was a big Jack Crevalle. I still can’t believe I didn't’t know what it was until I saw it, usually I can tell right away by the fight if it’s a jack. It turned into a great afternoon with a variety of catches and fish on the board. Smiling!
Unfortunately, the dark was coming and I’m not sitting out there by myself with freaking gators. Time to go. Driving away from the ramp in the dark with a car full of mosquitoes was so much fun. Check the scoreboard.. I’m in 7th
. Try harder tomorrow. Back to camp, shower, eat, sleep.
…..Wake up early to pack up a damn campsite in the dark. Meet my buddy Wade again at a spot that we think will help us avoid some wind. We wait till it’s somewhat light so we don’t have a surprise gator encounter. I’m optimistic as usual, we get out and I start searching for the area I had scouted online. We see birds diving and bait popping. Wade and I split up a bit…he ended up catching a nice Snook! I was able to up my score with a few fish which made me happy, but it wasn't’t enough. Checkin is at 2:30 and its 12noon. I’m starting to feel the pressure. That, “I can do it” attitude is starting to fade a bit. I pushed it to the last minute and just couldn't’t produce what I needed.
I think the most disappointing thing looking back was letting myself feeling deflated. Inside I knew I fought hard and kicked butt and I should feel nothing but proud! On my drive back, I gave myself a pep talk and got it together.
Big congrats to the winners and all the competitors! Everyone worked so hard just to stay on the water with high winds, fog, sunup to sundown fishing, gators, manatees, and mosquitoes. We all deserve a good pat on the back. Haha
All in all….I placed 8th
, and I earned every bit of it! I explored new fishing spots, met new friends, saw some beautiful landscapes, had fun hanging out with Wade,and cursed out a train conductor! Thanks Capt. Pat for putting these events on. :)
Will I do it again?? Hell yes…
(p.s. Mom, I wore my life jacket the whole time. Special thanks go to my awesome boyfriend for taking care of my very sick doggie so I could still go compete, loaning me his only bottle of pro-cure mullet scent, and having a nice “congratulations you kicked butt” dinner ready at his house when I got back. Thanks)