John's Journal...


Mike Wurm
Click to enlarge Editor's Note: You're supposed to have fun when you fish for bass because most of us think of bass fishing as recreation. You don't expect to find yourself chained to a wall in a medieval dungeon to learn how much torture you can endure when you bass fish. However, many anglers who earn their livings professionally fishing for bass must go to work when they don't want to, fish in bad, nasty weather and endure sickness, disaster and disappointment as a part of their jobs. You may think you've had a bad day of fishing before or fished in a really bad bass tournament. But once you read the experiences of some of America's best bass fishermen and learn what's happened to them on their worst days of fishing, your bad day of bass fishing may not seem so horrible.

Mike Wurm, a 51-year-old professional bass fisherman from Hot Springs, Arkansas, first fished competitively in 1978 and began fishing professionally on the Bassmaster circuit in 1992. He has had eight top-10 tournament finishes and has competed in five Bassmasters Classics.Click to enlarge "I was fishing a state bass tournament on Greer's Ferry during the Arkansas State Governor's Tournament," Mike Wurm recalls. "I had an old boat. Back then, there were no regulations governing how big a motor you could use on any size boat. My boat shouldn't have been powered by a motor much bigger than 115 horsepower, but I had a 150 horsepower engine sitting on its back. I was really proud of that big engine, which made my little boat fly and run like a scalded dog. 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 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, and 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 who said, 'You may want to come on down to the marina and look at your boat.

“When I arrived at the marina, 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 worried about how I was Click to enlargegoing to get that 18-foot-long boat out of the 38-foot-deep water. 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. Then we started winching the boat up, nose first, to let the water drain out of it. Once we got the boat up on the surface we pumped it out. The boat floated. However, all my tackle had floated out of it. All that was left inside the boat was two batteries. Too, the engine wouldn't start because it'd been underwater. But luckily there was a mechanic at the marina who said, 'Don't worry about your engine. I'll get it running. 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.’ When I got in from the tournament that afternoon, sure enough, true to his word, the mechanic had the engine running. I had to pay a pretty penny for 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 and could use my boat in the tournament. Up until now, we'd only been fishing practice days. n the first day of the actual tournament, my boat and motor ran like a well-oiled sewing machine. I caught 16 pounds of bass, and the six-man team I was fishing on was in the lead to win the tournament. I was really feeling good. I'd survived a disastrous night with a sunken boat and gotten my boat up and running the first day of the tournament. Now my team and I were in the lead. Life was good, and I was thankful.

"Then 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,' because I always seemed to have trouble when I fished that lake. Then in the last hour or two of the tournament, the wind picked-up. So, to prevent having a problem, and to make sure I got back to the weigh-in on time, I left my fishing spot a little early. As we were heading back to weigh-in, we got into some rough water. My boat started handling sluggishly as though I were Click to enlargedragging an elephant. When I looked toward the back of the boat, I saw that the casting deck on the back of the boat had come loose and blown off the top of the boat. Water was splashing over the side of the gunwale, and 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 well as we got closer to a little island. I thought for sure we'd be able to beach the boat. However, the closer we got to the island, the lower the boat sank in the water. We leaned forward to try and be as light as possible. However, when we were about 15 yards from the island, the motor sank and pulled the boat under. With the motor still running, 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 said, 'Well, here we are on the second day of the tournament 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?'

"You have to remember that my boat's sinking happened before the days of cell phones. We tried to flag down several boats, and finally a pontoon boat stopped. That fisherman 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 bass. We pulled the boat up so that we could at least open the livewell 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 with a boat and a trailer on a launch pad on the other side of the lake. My friends came and got my partner and me and took us back to the motel. 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 arrived home, I called a friend who repairs boats. He went with me back to Greer's Ferry Lake, helped me pull my boat out of the water and said he would try to rehabilitate it. I sold him the boat before we left Greer's Ferry, and he took the boat and motor home and cleaned it all up. As far as I know, the boat and motor are still running today. But I've never known anyone who's sunk his boat two times in one tournament. This tournament was, without question, one of the worst I can remember."


Check back each day this week for more about MY WORST DAY OF BASS FISHING ...

Day 1 - Worst Days of Fishing for Tim Horton, Michael Iaconelli and Kelly Jordon
Day 2 - Worst Days of Fishing for Gary Klein
Day 3 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing With Larry Nixon, Gerald Swindle and Kevin VanDam
Day 4 - Worst Days of Bass Fishing for Mike Wurm
Day 5 - Jay Yelas' Worst Day of Bass Fishing



Entry 262, Day 4