The Day the Tournament Stood Still

I was up at 3:30 A.M. My alarm was set for 3:45, but I always have a hard time sleeping the night before a tournament. I get dressed and head out to the garage to load up the boat. When I come back inside to wake up my son I see my Wife up and packing some lunches for us. I take the opportunity to wish her a happy anniversary and thank her for the lunch, but I can see she isn’t feeling well. She tells me not to worry, she is ok and her mom is there if she needs anything. Reluctantly I head out for the tournament.

My son and I have been having a hard time in recent tournaments, mainly because I have not been going out and prefishing. We have been doing a lot more salt water fishing rather than practicing before bass tournaments. I would rely on prior spots and hope they paid off, but it hasn’t been working.

Before this tournament however, I did practice. We were confident we could find the right fish this time. As soon as we got to our spot I knew we were in for a great day. Bait was popping on the surface and bass were crashing into them. I threw out my topwater and on the first cast had a strike, but the fish missed the hook. The second cast didn’t miss though. I fought the fish in and had my son cast right back out there with his topwater bait. I pulled in a barely legal fish, but it was a start.

My son hooked up too. It seemed to be a decent fish but threw the hook just before we could net it. It wasn’t long before I was hooked up again, but this time it was a decent fish. My son netted him and we knew we had a chance today. There were some good fish in the mix here.  We were less than twenty minutes into this tournament and had two keepers in the live well. The fish were still crashing, but I had to stop casting to check the text message I just got.

Now I don’t usually look at my phone during tournaments, but I guess I should let you in on something that happened the day before. About 5 A.M. on Friday, we rushed to the hospital because my wife thought she was going into labor. They did their checks on her and let us go home. She was having contractions but was not dilated, and they expected us to go a few more days or even a week before she was ready. Well, when she texted me, I knew something was up.

She said her mom was taking her in and she thought for sure she was going into labor. Well I knew it was time to go, but I’m not going to lie to you. It was hard letting the fish go. Another angler comes trolling in just as I’m releasing the fish and asks me what’s going on. I say my wife is having a baby and I got to go. I’m not sure if he realized he just trolled into the motherlode or not, but I didn’t have time to inform him. I had about an hour to get the boat and my son dropped off at home with his Grandpa, and another hour to the hospital. 

The whole time I’m driving I am getting texts and calls about her status. She is just trying to hold on until I get there. When I finally get into her section of the hospital the nurses start cheering. Literally they are clapping and cheering as they point me to my wife’s room. They did not think I was going to make it in time. It was not long after I arrived that she started pushing, and my beautiful daughter came into this world.

Now I try to be a tough guy most of the time, but I could not be tough this day. I was not there when my son was born. I didn’t even get to see him for the first 5 months of his life. Every single person in my family got to hold my son before I even got to see him. It was very important for me to be the first to hold my daughter. So as I held this tiny little girl in my arms, yes, I cried.

The tournament I was in earlier was not even over yet and it felt like it was weeks ago. My whole world had just changed so much. Now I make jokes about how she has ruined fishing since day one, but she hasn’t. I will still be fishing all my normal tournaments and more. I don’t get to go out and practice as much right now, but lets be honest. This little girl is going to be one amazing fisherwoman very soon.


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