John's Journal... Entry 239, Day 1
MIKE WURM'S FIVE WORST BASS-FISHING TOURNAMENTS
The Coldest I've Ever Been in My Life
Editor’s Note: Mike Wurm has tournament fished for bass for 30 years and has fished professionally fulltime for the past 13 years. Wurm has participated in some really-tough tournaments, just as you have if you've fished for very long. One aspect of fishing anglers may forget is that even the best fishermen in the nation have bad tournaments. When you read the popular literature about tournament bass fishing and tournament anglers, notice that you rarely read or hear about the fishermen who don't win. However, if you fish tournaments or go bass fishing very often, you know that losing and not catching bass is as much a part of the sport of bass fishing -- perhaps more a part -- than winning a bass tournament or catching a limit of 8 pounders. We've asked Mike Wurm to share with us some of his worst tournament experiences. From reading these uploads this week, you'll see that even the best of the best can have bad days of fishing. Then you can learn how they deal with them.
Weather is usually the factor that causes a tournament to be bad for me. If you fish tournaments for a few years, you're going to have some bad ones. The first one I can think of immediately, when you say the words, "bad tournaments," is a tournament I had on Grand Lake in Oklahoma a few years ago. I've never been so cold in all my life as I was at that tournament. The practice days for this tournament were cold but not bad cold. On the first day of competition, however, a severe cold front came through the area. On the first morning of the tournament, the weather was so cold that none of the contestants could get the lids on their live wells open. The lids were frozen to the boats. This tournament took place back in the old days before we had hydraulic steering, and some of the contestants had the cables that ran from their steering wheels to the motor frozen so solid that they couldn't turn their steering wheels and steer their boats. I had my boat in a covered boat stall so my steering cables were okay. Everyone who trailered his boat to the launch site had frozen steering cables and couldn't steer his boat once he put it in the water. Luckily most of the motors would start, however, after the first 10 or 15 boats were launched, the water on the launch ramp that was created when fishermen pulled their trailers out of the water, began to freeze. Then when the launch ramp became iced-over, contestants couldn't get their boats into the water. But finally everyone got launched, although we started the tournament a little bit late. I didn't know exactly how cold the weather was, but I knew it was below 20-degrees Farenheit.
Besides the temperature being so low, we had a 15- to 20-mile-per-hour wind that would pierce the coldness right through you just like a spear. I had put on all the clothes I had with me. You need to realize that this tournament was held before the days of Gore-Tex, Windstopper and Thinsulate. I had so many clothes on that I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy. After the launch, I ran to my first place where I'd to fish. Of course, during the run, I was crossing wakes and picking up spray from the other boats. So, when I stopped at the first place where I planned to fish, I stood up. I still can remember the sound of the ice breaking on my outer clothing and falling on the deck of the boat. What made the tournament even worse was that I'd drawn a partner who had only brought a vinyl rain suit to break the wind and stay warm. When I got up on my casting deck and started fishing, I felt the whole boat vibrating. As I turned around to see what was causing the vibration, I spotted my poor partner still sitting in his seat and shivering uncontrollably. Since I really got concerned for this fellow, I told him we'd pull in a creek and try to fish out of the wind. Luckily I had another rain suit in the boat, so I gave him my back-up rain suit just to try to keep him from freezing to death and to stop him from shivering.
I caught one or two fish, but I knew that the fishing was really going to be bad this day. So, I took a small crankbait out of my tackle box, took my time tying it on to my line because my fingers were so cold and then began to cast and try to catch some bass. The first point I fished after we came out of the creek, I caught a really nice bass. So, I decided to key in on points and attempt to catch a limit of bass on points with this little crankbait. But, as soon as we came out of the creek and got back on the main lake points, I felt the boat vibrating again. I looked back and saw my partner shivering. I fished two or three other points and tried to stay out of the wind to protect my partner. But about the fourth point we pulled up on, I heard a clicking sound coming from the back of the boat my partner's teeth were chattering so loudly.
I finally said, "Look, fellow, we're going to go in. I don't want to be responsible for your freezing to death." But through the chattering teeth, I heard, "No! I'm not going in. I'll be okay. You just keep fishing." Every time I'd suggest that we go in, my partner would refuse, even though I could see that he was about to freeze to death. We finally finished the day, and I caught 16 pounds of bass. Luckily, the wind laid down enough in the afternoon to allow us to cross the lake without getting too wet. The second day of the tournament wasn't much better than the first. In all my years of bass fishing, I don't believe I've ever fished in any weather as bad or as cold as that day was.
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TOMORROW: HURRICANE BASSIN'