John's Journal... Entry 239, Day 2
MIKE WURM'S FIVE WORST BASS-FISHING TOURNAMENTS
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.
I was fishing a tournament on Lake Champlain when Hurricane Hugo decided to come ashore. I love to fish Lake Champlain because it's loaded with bass. I can catch huge smallmouth on this lake. This trip was my second one to Lake Champlain. We were staying in little cabins on the edge of the water, and we could pull our boats up on the beach and leave them in the water. The first day of the tournament, the fishing was great. Most of the contestants caught plenty of big bass, and we were really excited about the second day's possibilities. Most of us had watched the Weather Channel, and we knew that Hurricane Hugo was headed in our direction. But, the bass fishing was just so good, we all believed that we could get out on the lake, catch a good limit of bass and run in if the weather got bad.
The take-off point was Mallett's Bay, which is a huge bay that has some retaining walls just outside the inlet to this bay. I was fishing close to and around these retaining walls and catching some good-sized bass. However, I noticed that the wind really started blowing, although the area where I fished was fairly calm. Two other contestants were fishing the same part of the lake as I was, and I noticed they were waving to me. One of the other fishermen, Stanley Mitchell, said, "You know, this weather is getting pretty bad. We might want to think about going in before it really gets rough." But I argued, "Look, the bass are really biting good. We've got two hours left of fishing time, and the weather here is not that bad." But Stanley countered with, "Have you looked at Mallett's Bay?" And after I told Stanley that I hadn't, he suggested that I motor up past the retaining walls and look back at the bay. Following his advice, I positioned my boat so that I could see the bay and immediately spotted 10-foot waves. Although the retaining walls had been protecting us from the wind, the wind was coming from the east, and the waves out in the bay were huge. When I saw those waves, I told Stanley and the other contestants, "Boys, we've gotta go right now if we're going to get in."
I never will forget how scary that trip back to the launch site was. We couldn't run into the waves, and we couldn't run with the waves. The only way we were able to get back was to go forward when the boat sank down in the troughs and try to ride through the troughs until the waves picked us back up and took us on top of the waves. The trip back to the take-in shouldn't have taken more than 5 to 10 minutes on a calm day. However, we spent an hour and 20 minutes fighting the waves and motoring through the troughs to reach the launch site. The waves were so big that when we would go down into the troughs to try to go forward, we could see nothing but giant walls of water on either side of the boat. Luckily, I found a covered boat stall in some protected water to park my boat for the night. But when I got back to the cabin that night, the winds had really picked up. My wife and I stayed up all night. We could hear the big trees all around the cabin creaking and popping as they yielded to the force of the wind. Limbs were falling on top of the cabin, and we were expecting to get hurt at any time.
The bay in front of our cabin was relatively shallow with a sandy beach, and many sailboats and other boats were anchored just offshore from our cabin. But the next morning when we got up and looked out the door of the cabin, half the boats that had been anchored the afternoon before were now sunk with only their bows or their masts peeking above the water. Luckily when I checked my boat in the marina, the only damage I had was that the rub rail on the side of the boat was about half-way pulled-off. But other contestants' boats got beat up and smashed. So the second day of the tournament was cancelled.
I realized that if I didn't get my boat out of the water, that more than likely my boat would get smashed, too. I put my trailer in the water and went and got my boat out of the stall. By then, the waves had really built up high, and when I drove my boat from the stall to the ramp, I was as scared as I've ever been on the water. All I had to do was motor the boat around a small point and into a protected bay where I could put the boat on the trailer. I only had to go about 300 yards, but to get to the launch site, I had to go right into the teeth of the waves. When I rounded the point and the waves hit the boat, my boat would go almost straight up. Right at the point where it was about to tip over, the nose of the boat would fall off the wave and dive straight into the trough of the wave. The only way I was able to get out around the point was to run with the troughs and motor above the launch site and then come back in the troughs of the waves until I could get my boat on the trailer. Without question, that tournament provided the most scary moments that I've ever spent in a bass boat at any tournament.
For the opportunity to purchase a collectible Mike Wurm signed and dated Strike King lure, email email@example.com for availability.
TOMORROW: NO PLACE TO RUN AND NO PLACE TO HIDE