This has been a strange year on the water. Outside of Guntersville, it seems that the year so far is all about one good day, and one flame out day.
On the Sabine River, good first day, then… On the Delta, a good first day, then… and Havasu a bad first day, then a great second day, but not enough to dig myself out of the hole from Day 1.
I went after it at Havasu. I practiced only with power fishing techniques, mainly swimbaits and crankbaits and didn’t have anything to fall back on. A lot of the guys that did well were combining their efforts between power and finesse, and on the first day it cost me. I didn’t have anything to fall back on when the bites didn’t come.
I caught almost 20 pounds early on Day 2 with a crankbait, but it wasn’t enough, so I missed the Top 50 cut. That’s not something I enjoy, and it certainly put me in a more difficult spot when it comes to trying to win Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, but I’m still going to go after it and see what happens.
It’s been a nice couple of weeks at home, but I can’t say that it’s been relaxing. We were preparing for my fourth Skeet Reese Kids Fishing Day; which we had Saturday. We had more than 400 kids come fish the pond at the park in Meadow Vista. The event was to raise funds for the Auburn Recreation District, Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors and Tackle the Storm Foundation.
The ARD does so much to make sure there are great facilities for families to enjoy the outdoors. I’ve watched the Meadow Vista Friendly Neighbors group take care of people, even feeding people who need help, and Don Barone and Tackle the Storm help put fishing equipment into the hands of kids after the tragedy of a natural disaster. Every one of these are causes we believe in, so we wanted to support them.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife planted trout in the pond again, and my sponsors donated the gear and some clothes for the kids who signed up to fish. The kids who pre-signed got a gift bag with hooks and weights from Eagle Claw, PowerBait, Trilene line and a pack of Havoc baits from Berkley, and Dick’s Sporting Goods sent special Skeet Reese / Dick’s Sporting Goods T-shirts for us to hand out to the kids.
Our community came out to help us, too, the California B.A.S.S. Nation set up a casting deal so that they could help kids learn more about and practice casting skills, and we had help from family and friends from the area.
Because the event was on Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to make sure that we put the focus on those soldiers who have given their lives for our country and their families. We decorated the edges of the pond with 200 U.S. Flags, and all of the park decorations were red, white and blue.
Along with the theme, a local veterans group came out to demonstrate how a U.S. Flag is supposed to be folded properly. They handed me a sheet of paper to read in narration as each step of the flag was folded. I didn’t know that there was a written reason for each fold, and I really struggled to read it through without getting choked up.
After they finished, the commander walked over, took the mic from me and presented the folded flag to me. I don’t deserve it, and I was really almost ashamed to be given it when there are so many soldiers who have given their lives in defense of this country. I felt unworthy to be handed that flag, and the moment they did, I thought of our military and that’s when I lost it. I got choked up and had to fight back the tears because I was reminded at that moment after reading that list of folds, just how much our military gives up on behalf of us, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Along with the Memorial Day features, there was face painting, food trucks, Gamez on Wheelz, and a guy who does corporate teambuilding exercises with a twist. This guy brings all of the materials to let a team build a play house for kids. Then, after they’ve assembled and painted, the organizer tells them that they’ve done to project and it will be donated to underprivileged children. Well, at this event, my daughter Lea’s soccer team did the project, and the girls who received it did not know they were getting it; it was really cool.
The event does a lot of good, and we’re proud of that. I’m really proud of my wife Kim who busts her butt on this event; it wouldn’t go on without her effort and heart to see it get done right. But, even though it does so much for so many people, the best part of it for me is seeing kids catch fish; especially their first fish.
There’s just something about watching a kid catch their first fish, or hearing the stories about it from them, or family members afterward that really fills my heart with joy. I look forward to seeing that, and it is my favorite part of this event.
I just have to ask, what has your kid caught lately? I hope it was a big one.