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Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong

by Lee Padrick, August 11, 2014

For the too long, didn't read (tl;dr) folks:  We skunked.

"Something has gone terribly wrong," I told Dwayne Smith, one-half of the Redfish Guys at 10 AM on Saturday, August 9th.  "Horribly wrong," Dwayne chimed in, not a hint of emotion in his voice.  Dwayne and I were fishing the Swansboro Hook and Bones Redfish Open, the second stop on the Carolina Redfish Series and we were in a remote marsh system along the southern Outer Banks, a long way from, well, ... everything. 

The Swansboro Hook and Bones Redfish Open is our Super Bowl.  While its one of three stops on the Carolina Redfish Series, thanks to the generous prize money guaranteed by the Town of Swansboro Parks and Recreation Department, this is the tournament where tournament anglers have the best shot at bigger payouts.  Winning this tournament, or at least doing well, has been our goal all season.
Practice makes perfect,
except when it doesn't

Dwayne and I had done some extensive scouting leading up to the event, and we had found good numbers of quality fish about 45 miles east of Downtown Swansboro, the checkout site for this tournament.  We had found good fish in other areas, but the remote marsh area held the most fish we had found, so it was not a hard decision to roll the dice and fish this area hard, particularly with a high tide around 9 AM in this area.  

We ran from Swansboro toward Morehead City.  The wind was light out of the northeast at checkout, and the ride east was not too bumpy.  But as we exited the Goat Island shortcut, we were hit right in the face by a stiff 20 knot northeast wind.  The weatherman had missed the wind forecast by at least 10 knots.  The next 20 miles offered 2' chop and an old fashioned butt-whipping.

One learning experience we took away from the tournament is to always wear your rain gear for long runs, because by the time our boat came off plane at our first stop, we were both soaked.  For some reason, I had a gut feeling that something did not look or feel right about our fishing spot.  Apparently Dwayne had the same feeling, but neither one of us vocalized our apprehension.  

We fished hard for the next three hours, and as the tide started to drop, we both felt that our fish just were not home today.  By 10 AM, we both realized that it was time to do something different, so we ran the boat about 10 miles west to a backup spot, but after fishing for an hour, we still had not caught any fish.  Our fishing window was quickly closing as the tide started to drop significantly.  At this time, we decided to call an audible, so we secured everything in the boat and headed to the back of one of the local river systems.  
Not home on Game Day

Our last stop was a wind-protected bank, and Dwayne stuck a nice fish on topwater around 1:30 pm.  We didn't have much time left to fish and get back to the weigh-in site, but at least our luck was improving.  Unfortunately, this fish was 28", too big to fit within the required 18-27" slot in North Carolina, and we caught no more fish as the clock wound down.
Where did this fish go?

"At some point in the next few hours, I'm going to have a good cry," I told Dwayne as our fishing time ran out.  And later that night, I did.

The old cliche is that luck is best defined as the intersection of preparation and opportunity.  Unfortunately for us, while the preparation was present, the opportunity was not.  While we searched hard for opportunity, it was not to be found.  Just a long road of disappointment, sorrow, and failure.  And some good-hearted laughs at our predicament.  So we made the reluctant phone call to the Tournament Director that we had no fish and would not make it back to the weigh-in.

Congratulations to Rennie Clark and Drew Arndt for bringing in an impressive aggregate weight of 14.07 pounds for the win.  And great job by all the anglers that weighed fish and competed.

I want to thank Hook and BonesSalty Bay BaitsTemple Fork OutfittersPro-Cure Bait ScentsFins Premium SuperlinesNo Slack TackleBubba Blade, and for keeping us on the water.   And thanks to Hook and Bones, the Town of Swansboro Parks and Recreation,, and Chasin' Tails Outdoors for putting together the Carolina Redfish Series. 

Our next event is September 20th at the third stop on the Riley Rods Redfish Shootout Series, that will be held out of Surf City.    After a disappointing tournament day, an opportunity to catch and weigh fish is exactly what we need.  We are looking forward to it. - Lee


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