Havasu Heartbreak

It is better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all. Alfred Lord Tennyson's famous quote really summed up my latest fishing adventure. On the long drive out to Arizona, I dreamed of winning a fully rigged bass boat only to have my dreams crushed by a hottie named Havasu. This was my first big money tournament and a chance for me to take a salmon style leap up to the next pool of competitive bass fishing. 

Leaving the concrete jungle for the chance at fishing fame and fortune.
Hope and anticipation fueling my mind like a tikki torch, I left the concrete jungle for the arid desert landscape of Lake Havasu, Arizona. My game plan was to go out and fish like I normally do, taking advantage of the opportunities put in front of me by the professional, working a drop shot or senko with some reaction baits thrown in if the fish were actively feeding. The weather was going to be nice, in the upper 70's with some high winds expected the second day. Water temperatures were in the mid fifties, meaning some of the fish would be spawning or getting ready to spawn (60 degrees being the magic #) while others would be in pre-spawn mode.
Gas was nothing nice but the open road was sure friendly.

The open road...
I arrived at the pre-tournament meeting to register and find out who my partner would be for day number one. After a few prayer sessions with Al Lindner (host of In-Fisherman and Hall of Fame Angler), I got partnered up with Jim. He was enthusiastic and hopeful but seemed a little tipsy when I got up close to talk with him. Swerving back and forth like a buoy, Mr. Beam grabbed my shoulders and repeatedly asked me what my name was. I got what little information I could off of him, then went back to my room to prepare myself for the big day.
A little pre-tournament clutter. 
Jim was in better shape when he picked me up at 6:00 am outside of my motel. As a co-angler you have to be able to adapt to the conditions of the day as well as the conditions of the angler you are fishing with. We launched our boat and enjoyed another prayer session before blast off. Jim's dog accompanied us on our adventure as he slumped Pink on his radio and drove to our first spot. I had a feeling I was taking this day a little more serious than he was. Mr. Beam  was a pro, with sponsors spooning him $$$, while I had to fork up the entry fee myself and when you eat with a fork, every bite makes it to your mouth while a spoon tends to spill out and get messy. I sure hope Mr. Beam eats with a bib.   
The anticipation at the start of the day.
The highlight of the day came at Jim's expense. A fish took his bait while he was untangling line from his reel. How was he going to get this fish in the boat you ask? Well, he decided to transform into the Fresh Prince of the Desert and get all hip-hop, wrapping the line around his hand, putting on coil after coil faster and faster to the beat of the fish, as it cut into his flesh. After an epic battle, he finally got the fish to the boat and I netted that small-mouth bass like DJ Jazzy Jeff! We exchanged knuckles feeling really good about ourselves as if we had just finished a great set. 

How bout a bite, huh. 
Jim ended the day with two bass in the live well while I goose egged. The question leading into day number two was;

Will this salmon keep swimming against the current or will he be discouraged and swim back out to sea with his caudal fin tucked between his pelvic fins?

To be continued...     

A little embarrassed, skunked on my first big tournament. Rather be winning than watching.