John's Journal... Entry 239, Day 5
MIKE WURM'S FIVE WORST BASS-FISHING TOURNAMENTS
Greer's Ferry Jinx Revisted
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.
I was fishing a state bass tournament on Greer's Ferry. This particular tournament was the Arkansas State Governor's Tournament. I had an old boat, and back during those days, there were no rules or regulations governing how big a motor you could use on any size boat. Now, this boat I had really and truly shouldn't have been powered by a motor much bigger than 115 horsepower, but I had a 150 horsepower engine sitting on the back of this little boat. I was really proud of that big engine, which made my little boat fly. My boat would run like a scalded dog, and I could beat most of the other fishermen to any spot on the lake that I wanted to fish from the take-off point. The only problem that I saw with that big engine was that it was a little bit heavy, and the front of the end of the boat did ride somewhat high, even when the engine was turned off.
The night before the tournament, I parked my boat in a covered stall. That night a storm blew up, but I wasn't too concerned about my boat, because it was covered. However, at 3:00 a.m., I got a call from the marina operator. He said, "You might want to come on down to the marina and look at your boat." When I got down to the marina and walked to the stall where I'd tied my boat, all I could see was about a foot of the boat's nose out of the water. The rest of the boat and the motor were under the water. As I surveyed the situation, I began to wonder how I was going to get the boat out of the water. The boat was 18-feet long, and the bottom was 38-feet deep. My boat was suspended just under the water with nothing but the nose out. Luckily, the boat was still tied to the dock, so at least I had a rope to start pulling on the boat. The marina operator came over and helped me get a rope down and around the back end of the boat. Once we had the rope around the back end of the boat, we began to winch the boat up, nose first, to let the water drain out of it. Once we got the boat up on the surface we were able to pump it out and at least get the boat to float. However, of course, all my tackle had floated out of it. All that was left inside the boat was two batteries. Of course, the engine wouldn't start because it had been underwater. But luckily there was a mechanic at the marina, and he came to the dock and said, "Don't worry about your engine. I'll get it running."
Once we got the boat up, I put it on the trailer, and
the mechanic said, "You go ahead and fish with someone else today
in the tournament, and by the time you get back, I'll have the engine
running. Then your boat will be ready to go." When I got in from
the tournament that afternoon, sure enough, true to his word, the mechanic
had the engine running. Of course, it cost me a pretty penny to get this
mechanic to stop everything he was doing and get my motor up and running.
However, I felt really fortunate that I was back in the fishing business.
I could use my boat in the tournament, because up until now, we'd only
been fishing practice days.
On the second day of the tournament, I fished on the lower end of the lake, caught a good limit of bass and was feeling really good about the way this tournament was going. I thought to myself, "Finally I've beaten the Greer's Ferry Jinx." But I noticed in the last hour or two of the tournament the wind began to pick up. So, to prevent having a problem, and to make sure I get back to the weigh-in on time, I leave my fishing spot a little bit early. As we're heading back to weigh-in, we got into some rough water. My boat started handling a little rough and a little sluggish as though I were dragging an elephant. So, I finally looked to the back of the boat, and I saw that the casting deck on the back of the boat had come loose and blown off the top of the boat. The water was splashing over the side of the gunwale, and I looked in the bottom of the boat and saw that the bottom of the boat was filling up with water. I told my buddy to hang on, that I thought we might be sinking. I got my partner to run to the front of the boat to try to get the boat level so that we could continue to move forward and hopefully at least get to land before the boat sunk. For the first 50 yards, we were doing pretty good. We were getting closer and closer to a little island by moving forward. I thought we were going to be able to beach the boat. But the closer we got to the island, the lower the boat began to sink in the water. We're leaning forward trying to be as light as we can and getting closer and closer to the island. However, when we were about 15 yards from the island, the motor sank and pulled the boat under. The motor was still running, so I told my partner, "Hang on. I'm going to goose the motor and give it some gas. We should get enough power to get the boat to the bank." I opened the throttle wide open. The motor roared, and the boat jumped out of the water like a porpoise. The nose of the boat came to rest on the bank. As soon as the boat hit the bank, my partner jumped out of the boat and tied the boat to a tree just as the motor died. Then the back of the boat sank. When I got out on the bank, I told my partner, "Well, here we are on the second day of the tournament. We're out here in the middle of the lake on an island, and nobody knows where we are. The back half of the boat is under the water, but at least the front half of the boat is out of the water. What are we going to do now?"
that this sinking happened before the days of cell phones. We tried to
flag down several boats and finally a pontoon boat stopped. The fisherman
on the boat told us he would go to his house, call the tournament director,
tell him where we were and what had happened and ask him to send someone
to get us. Hours went by, and no help came. We knew we weren't going to
arrive at the weigh-in in time to weigh our fish. We pulled the boat up
so that we could at least open the live well and release our bass. But
when we got to the live well, we discovered that the top had already come
open, and the bass had already swam away. Finally, just about dusk, we
saw a truck on a launch pad on the other side of the lake. The truck had
a boat and trailer on the back, and I recognized the boat as belonging
to one of my friends. My friends came and got me and my partner to take
us back to the motel. So I left my boat and motor still partially sunk
in the water, tied to a tree on the island. My team lost the tournament
because I didn't weigh in any fish. When I got back home, I called a friend
who fixes boats. He agreed to go with me back to Greer's Ferry Lake, help
me pull my boat out of the water and try to rehabilitate the boat. I sold
him the boat before we left Greer's Ferry, and he took the boat and motor
home, cleaned it all up. As far as I know, the boat and motor are still
running today. But I've never known of anyone who's sunk his boat two
times in one tournament. This tournament was, without question, one of
the worst I can remember.
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