I ended the 2011 season with a 32nd place finish and a 2nd in the FLW Tour Opens AOY race. Not bad as this was one of my main goals for the year, to finish in the top5 in the Opens. The top 5 all qualify to fish the 2012 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Lanier, GA next summer, so that's a big deal and eliminates some pressure going into next season. This early qualification will make my 11th consecutive Cup appearance, a stat I'm very proud of.
Guntersville was tougher than I've ever seen it by far, it looked awesome with all the grass everywhere, but the fishing was brutal in practice, what little I was able to do, lol. I spent the majority of my 3 day practice period driving in the truck because I blew my engine and had to drive all over creation to get it fixed by the start of the event. Chattanooga Fish N Fun ended up getting me back on the water and I want to thank Lee Hass and his staff for all their help and kindness. What a great group of people he has there, no wonder they've been ranked a top 100 Ranger dealer so many times.
It was a trying week to say the least. I once again roomed with Tom Rizzo and his lovely cook, lol (wife), Gwen...that's not the trying part, haha, but our luck was terrible all week. First, we had to uproot from our initial rental house due to a few cock roaches, ug! But as it turned out, we ended up in a much better place right on the water, so that was cool. Then the motor blew up on the first morning of practice..awesome! Tom wanted to back out of this event about a week prior to leaving home, so for all this stuff to go wrong made me feel a little bad. Why? Because I talked him into fishing the tournament, lol. He's never been to the famous G-ville before, so he had to come finish out the fishing season on one of the best lakes on the planet...right? Well, it usually is one of the best, but this time really sucked.
When we finally hit the water (in a borrowed boat) on the last day of practice, we hardly caught anything at all. I was feeling pretty guilty for a while, but then Tom decided to "turn it on" in the event and go on to finish 11th (I think). So that made it all worth it in the end...thank God. I was able to find a little group of fish during the first day of the tournament which enabled me to squeak out a good enough finish to end the year in 2nd, so it's all good. I need to thank Dan Ferguson, a co-angler in the event, for loaning me his boat to practice out of on that last day. He went out of his way to empty out his boat to make room for our gear and I can't thank him enough for that. Dan, if you're reading this, I owe you a trip on Lake Erie whenever you want to come.
I broke the record of time away from my family on this trip, that is never a good thing. I had to leave straight from Guntersville, AL to get to Conroe, TX the very next day for my final tournament of 2011. I finished 41st in that unfortunately, it would have been nice to close out the year with a bang in Texas, but no dice this time around.
I put some serious mileage on the Dually this trip and again everything went flawlessly. You don't even know the boat is back there on all those hills and curves. We usually tow the 38 foot fifth wheel trailer with it, so it was nice to give it a little rest I guess on this trip. It is a smooth riding vehicle for such a beast of truck I must say, feels like driving a sports car...love it! Anne kept the Suburban at home this time because she needed the extra seating for family things while I was away, so it worked out good. I dropped my boat off in Arkansas for the annual refurb, it was totally amazing how much crap I had in the cap of my truck after unloading my boat, plus all the tackle and clothing I already had in there. I was a drummer for years, so I know how to pack things tightly, lol.
Well this is my final "On Tour" Blog for the season, it has been a lot of fun keeping you up to date on our travels. Mitchell got a real thrill out of reading your comments on his blog especially. Thanks for following our family throughout the FLW Tour events, we hope to keep this blog rolling through next year as well. Have a great off-season and Happy Holidays everyone!