Monday, October 23, 2006

Wal-Mart BFL Regional Tournament on Lake Wright Patman

I fished in the Wal-Mart BFL Regional tournament last week, October 19th through the 21st. Normally I'd give a detailed report of how the tournament went, but I can't bring myself to relive the event. It was bad enough to live through it once, and by the grace of God, I lived through it.

Brief overview of the event:

Left on Tuesday night and planned on driving 600+ miles through to Texarkana, but I got a little tired and I got to New Boston when I saw the new Wal-Mart Super Center on the side of the highway. I decided I should pull over and camp there for the rest of the night. Just in case you didn't know, you can camp overnight in Wal-Mart parking lots when traveling. I woke up at 5:00 AM and went inside, bought some breakfast, and headed to the lake. Once I arrived at North Shore park, I parked, and started fishing. I fished for a while and then boats started arriving. I talked to a guy sleeping in his truck who had just woke up and turns out he used to work with my brother and is fishing in the tournament also. Anyway, so I catch a bass while watching boats launch and Max Harader offered to take me out to prefish with him. That day it was a little foggy early, warm and sunny all day after the fog blew off. It was a great day to be on the lake. We caught a few fish that day and I really enjoyed fishing with Max, he's a great guy. Especially since I saw probably 30 boats launch before Max came along and offered to let me fish with him in practice for the event. The next day a front was blowing in with 20+ mph winds, rain, and dark cloudy sky. I drew Gabe Spencer for the first day of the event. Gabe ran the boat all out going across a very rough lake and we made it to the first spot, fished for about an hour and then his boat caught fire! That's right, it caught fire. We smelled smoke a few times and Gabe finally decided to check the engine well where the batteries and gas tank are located and when he opened the lid it was like a back draft or something, flames and smoke came out. Needless to say, that pretty much killed the first day of fishing. Gabe didn't have his trolling motor batteries tied down and something happened in that rough ride that caused a short and lead to the fire. The second day I drew out, Marc Downs. The second day of the tournament the weather was different, it was cold and no wind, but the water was still warm. That creates a lot of fog by the way, very thick fog delayed the start of the tournament three hours. That was pretty much the nail in the coffin for my hopes of making it to the All American event. Four hours to fish wasn't enough to catch the field I was competing against. I've had tough tournaments, but that one will go down in the history books I'm sure.

Lesson learned:

Make sure your batteries are tied down securely. It's possible that in the rough ride, one of the batteries bounced up and touched a cable connection creating the sparks that lead to the fire. The other possibility is that the lead plates in the battery touched together and over heated the battery. That could have happened in the rough ride and coupled with the fact they were not secure. If you take a battery out and it gets knocked over by some mistake, do not use the battery, because it will most likely over heat. We were told this by a tech at the tournament site assisting anglers with boat problems.

One of the trolling motor batteries had melted down to the the acid level in the battery cells, and the acid was boiling, it could have exploded. It also could have blown up the fuel tank! Like I said at the beginning of this report, I survived by the good grace of God and his protection.


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