Overcoming Adversity

KMT Tournament Journals


Most anyone reading this last installment of KMT Journals for the 2007 season is old enough to remember the cast of the beloved Hee Haw sitting around the cabin, surrounded by hay bales and lazy blue-tick hounds, bellowing the woeful ditty:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me – oohh!
Deep dark depression, excessive misery – oohh!
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all – oohh!
Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

My Liquid Fire Fishing Team's third year of tournament fishing was overall a successful year. We were able to finish second in two tournaments - the Topsail Offshore and Cedar Point KMTs - narrowly missing a victory in Topsail by one-half pound to our friend Henry Moore and the Bobcat crew (yes, I am still envious). Finishing in the top 20 by placing 9th, 12th, and 16th in three different SKA divisional races was a goal that we achieved, as well.

Plowing through the first 13 tournaments was fairly unhindered. We were able to fish with few concerns until one of our favorite tournaments of the year arrived. The Atlantic Beach King Mackerel tournament holds a dear spot in my family's hearts because it is the first tournament in which we caught a 30-plus pound king, placing us fourth overall in 2005.

We had prepared for a couple of weeks, finding bait, tying rigs, and servicing reels. With the team sitting in a solid sixth position in Division Two, and my son, Crockett, and father, Charles, holding down the Junior and Senior Angler leads, we felt we had an opportunity for a good showing, until... the morning of day two.

It was really no different than the other seven days that we had fished in this tournament through the years – ROUGH! But we fished!

After weighing a small fish on day one, I pointed my 25-foot Contender due east and made a run from Cape Carteret to the checkout location at the Fort Macon Coast Guard Station on the second day. I decided to motor behind Shackelford Banks and past Harker's Island to eliminate about six miles of what would have been a brutal, knee-bruising jaunt toward the Cape Lookout Shoals.

As Stacy Wester's 33T Contender, Big Bad Wolf, cruised by me, I tucked my less speedy vessel in his prop wash and laid the throttles on the dash to try to stay close (it is absolutely a macho thing; I knew we could not keep up, but it was going to be fun to pretend).

All of a sudden, the deep, melodious hum of my port outboard went from an excited 5,800 rpms to a descending, sickening stall – oil pump dump – powerhead, blown.

As we limped back toward Beaufort Inlet, we watched several high-profile teams follow the same trail we were trying to blaze. I had my lip poked out, singing to myself…

Gloom, despair, and agony on me – oohh!

But we fished! The Beaufort Shipping Channel was our most logical choice. As we fumbled to our chosen buoys, we deployed our spread of bait hoping for an opportunity. Big fish are caught here often, only not by me. However, we were giving it everything we had, just not with much confidence.

While I daydreamed about how much new motors were going to cost (maybe it was a nightmare), I peered over my left shoulder from the helm only to see the largest king mackerel I had seen all year and hear my son Joshua shout, "There she is! Big king!" She had "skied" and missed the hooks on the port rocket launcher bait. Joshua slid the rod from the holder and slipped the bait back to her - a quick burst and then, nothing.

She was gone as quickly as she had appeared. The grace in which she arose from the sloppy seas hung in my thoughts through the remainder of the day, replacing the sickening "chunk" when I tried to restart my motor.

The rest of the day was splattered with sharks and other strikes that were disheartening. Losing a motor is one thing but losing "Big Mama" in competition tournament fishing, well, that is something completely different. It is kind of like…

Deep dark depression, excessive misery – oohh!

The following week was filled with the thoughts of, "What if?" After a few days of sulking and thinking about what I was going to do about fishing the final divisional tournament of the year, the "Fall Brawl," I had to do what my coaches always told me - "Shake it off."

Things began to fall into place. After an initial contact by my friends of The Right One Baby…, Power Marine Outfitters in Sneads Ferry and Yamaha came to my rescue. I was honored to be chosen for the Yamaha manufacturer's program, which assisted me with obtaining a new set of 200 HPDIs. This was unexpected and very much appreciated. While I waited on my new motors to arrive, my friend Ben Beasley, captain of the High Speed Wobble, offered his boat for our final tournament. I gratefully accepted his offer because of our eighth place standing in Division Nine.

I had "shaken it off." The next Friday night, we prepared the High Speed Wobble just as we would the Liquid Fire, although I must admit, it was odd seeing a royal blue-hulled Contender in the driveway instead of my bright red hull.

We were ready. We felt we had chosen the right day for the Captain's Choice tournament. My rods and tackle were in place. The trailer had been secured to the Liquid Fire mobile. All we had to do was get up Saturday morning and go catch a revenge fish. This was our plan anyway.

Everything was working to design until the next morning. We were about to pull out of the driveway to launch, and I heard my brother-in-law, Chris, ask Joshua, "Weren't there four rods there last night?" referring to the rod holders beside the console. Another sickening feeling came over me as I walked to back of my buddy's boat to find that 14 of my TICA rod and reel combinations had been removed from my possession. That is right – STOLEN!

I could only think… If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all – oohh!

Instead of catching our "revenge fish," that Saturday was filled with filing police reports and calling as many tackle stores that deal in used equipment as I could. I did not know what to do. Fishing was out of the question, and I had not been this dejected in a long time. I felt as though I should have been on the set of Hee Haw leading the chorus…

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.

However, I realized that I have never been a quitter, and my family and I "hitched up our loins." I swallowed my pride and borrowed Ben's rods and reels to fish Sunday instead. It was quite possibly the most difficult day I ever fished. The seas were 8-10 feet about three seconds apart, and my decision making was very poor when deciding where to fish.

After arriving at a place offshore where we had caught some nice fish this year, it was just too rough to fish. Therefore, after pounding back toward Bogue Inlet, we finally deployed a spread at about 12:00 noon. Three sharks, one possible king strike and a bruised ego was the daily conclusion as we reluctantly gathered our rigs and borrowed tackle to end our year of competition. But we fished.

Overcoming this adversity at the end of the season will make us a stronger team, and hopefully, help me make more intelligent decisions. It made me realize how appreciative and thankful I should be to have this time to spend with my family. Telephone calls and emails from fellow competitors as far away as Florida offering their equipment for use was astounding.

I continue to try to dissect the dynamics and the lure of this sport, and I am not sure that I will ever figure it out. However, I have determined that overcoming adversity does not always end in a celebrated victory. Sometimes it comes in the form of realizing Hee Haw was really just a goofy show.


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Capt. Josh Henderson holding a large Spanish Mackerel caught on one of his charter fishing trips.

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Happy Liquid Fire Sportfishing customer holding a large Mahi-mahi caught on a Liquid Fire Sportfishing charter fishing trip.

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Fishing charter customer Sarah F. posing with a 8 lb. 1 oz. Red Hind landed on a Liquid Fire Sportfishing charter fishing trip.

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