Lake Bemidji Minnesota
We left the house on Tuesday and made it all the way to Cameron, Missouri and spent the night there. Got up early in the morning to drive another 9 hours to reach our destination to Bemidji, Minnesota. I was going to watch my brother, Grant and his partner John compete in the Bassmaster College Series National Championship on Lake Bemidji in Minnesota. We were a little way down the road when Grant called to see if we could stop and pick up some worms that were working well while he was pre-fishing. As you know out of all the baits you bring it’s always the one that you have the least of that the fish want to bite. The 1st stop was Bass Pro Shop and they did not have them. We went into Iowa and stopped at Cabella’s and they had 3 packages left. We picked them up and were on our way. It rained on us a lot today. We drove many miles passing huge parcels of land with barns and grain silos. The fields were covered with corn for miles. We finally arrived and went to see Grant, he was staying with the teams at the dorm at Bemidji University. We gave him his baits and wished him good luck. He had to get to sleep early because tomorrow was the start of the tournament. We left and went to our hotel and when my mom went to get us checked in there was a group of anglers siting in the lobby talking and she asked them how they did in practice today and they said, “It was hard finding the fish”. The anglers from Monticello in Alabama and Auburn were there. Then one guy turned around and said, “Hi to my mom”. Guess who it was? It was Jordan Lee, the angler that just won the Bassmaster on Lake Conroe. My mom introduced him to me. We talked for a little while. He thought I was really tall.
Tournament Day 1
Unlike the day before when Grant and John were practicing the weather was sunny and the fish were biting. Today it is raining and a cool 57 degrees with a slight wind blowing. It had also rained all night. As we know when this happens everything changes. The fish like to move.
There were 59 colleges that qualified across the United States. There were 3 teams representing Texas A&M. It was so exciting to see my brother competing in the National Championship. I would have loved to be in the boat. It’s hard being here and not being able to fish. I don’t want to fish in the lake where Grant is competing. If I caught fish and if I caught something bigger than him that would not be good.
When Grant and John arrived at Paul Bunyan Park I was there waiting on them. My Grandma and Papa also drove all the way from Montgomery to see Grant compete. John’s parents flew in to surprise him at the weigh in also. I immediately got on the boat I could not stand it. I had to see what they had in the well. John went to get the bag and I stayed on the boat to help them put the fish in the bag. They had 3 fish. They were not biting like they were the day before.
Grant and John went on the stage and weighed in their fish. As soon as they finished and they came down and went to get the boat it started pouring down. Everyone was drenched. They drove across the lake to take the boat out. The storm cleared up and we all went out to dinner together.
Tournament Day 2
Today the weather was much better. The rain went away and the sun was out. Grant and John went out in hopes of finding more fish today. They went to some different spots and caught 1 bass and then they went back to where Grant caught the 2 fish on the first day of practice and he caught 2 nice ones. I waited for them to come in today. It was really hard for me to watch and not be competing. Today they caught 4 fish and ended up in 29th place out of 89 teams. As soon as they came in and weighed their fish Grant and I took the boat and headed out to fish for a while.
Derek Battles a Muskie
After the tournament Grant and I went down the Mississippi River fishing along the banks. Grant caught a Rock Bass and then I caught Pike. Then Grant caught another Rock Bass. Right after we pulled under the bridge I saw a fish hiding in the grass. I was determined to catch this fish. I knew it when I saw it. It was a MUSKIE. That is the fish of 10,000 casts. This was a chance of a lifetime for me. I had never caught one and I was not going to let this one get away from me. I cast out and he just looked at the bait. Then I hooked the beast. He flew out of the water and made a huge splash, soaking Grant. I got him close to the boat but we did not have a net and even if we did it would not have been large enough. When I say this was a BEAST, he was close to 40 inches long with razor sharp teeth. His head was the size of 3 of my fists. I tried to grab him and pull him up and he slipped out of my hands. My adrenaline was pumping and I was not about to give up. The fight was on!
My mom had called to check to see where we were because we were going to dinner and we told her to come quick we had a huge Muskie on the line. We dropped a pin on the map so she could find us. She parked down the road and walked up to the bridge. She called our names and we were directly under the bridge where no one could even see us. We were in the middle of nowhere. Somehow my mom always manages to find us. She climbed down the rock wall and got in the boat. I was holding the Muskie on the line. I continually tried to get him out of the water, he was too strong. I was not about to give up so I had Grant bring the boat closer to the bank and I got out. The water was not very deep and I thought if I could get my feet on the ground I would have a better chance at bringing him in. I grabbed him by the gills and pulled out the hook, then it dropped into the water. I had the beast for a moment in my hands and then he started thrashing his head back and forth and cut me with his teeth and broke free. I really wanted to hold him up but he was not going to have any part of that so he jumped into the river and swam off. That was so exciting and my adrenaline was racing when I discovered the hook was stuck in my leg. I was so excited I pulled it out. When I got out of the water my hand was dripping with blood. He had cut my hand in the great escape. My mom saw it from a distance and thought we might be going in for stitches. She was shaking her head telling me I could have lost a finger. It was dripping in blood and I could not see how bad it was because Grant wouldn’t let me wash it in the river because all the bacteria would get in the cut. I had to wait till we got some clean water out of the boat. That is when I discovered it was not as bad as it looked. His teeth were sharp and I was lucky he didn’t take my fingers off. I went home and rinsed it in alcohol and put some medicine on it. It was a little sore but worth the fight.
Mille Lacs Lake
The day after the tournament we all wanted to go to catch small mouth bass. We drove to Mille Lacs Lake. We arrived at 4:00 at Father Hennepin State Park. It was near Isle Minnesota located on the shores of the famous Mille Lacs Lake. It is known as one of the best lakes in the United States for large size small mouth bass.
We went to one spot and didn’t get a bite. We went to a spot near a pile of rocks flocked with black ducks and seagulls. I caught the first small mouth. He weighed 4.10 pounds. That is a very good size for a small mouth. Then John caught one and then I caught another. My mom caught an orange crawfish. Then Grant got one. We fished till dark. I caught about 8, Grant and John caught 7 each. It was a great time. We definitely want to go back one day and do it again.
THROW IT OUT, POP IT IN, FISH ON!