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Brides, Babies, and Bassín

Helpful Hints for the Aspiring Young Angler with a Young Family
By: Douglas Detherow

Brides, Babies and Bassín!! CAUTION if not handled carefully this mixture can be more volatile than nitroglycerin.   Our women want us at home and children need us there, yet we spend seemingly every free moment on the water either pre-fishing or competing.  Mother-in-law is constantly adding pressure by spouting out very non-supportive gestures,  and your buddies that are at home mowing the lawn on Saturday wonder how you get away with it??   Gentlemen, the competition between family and serious tournament fishing is rarely a win-win, on our part anyhow, but by  minding these simple yet effective details at home we can keep the situation from becoming a lose-lose.

The scenario is common among many anglers throughout the state, a young family at home while youíre out on the water trying to stake your claim to tournament success among this stateís elite anglers.  In this state, if you plan on being competitive, you have to be dedicated.  Oklahoma Bass fishermen are viewed as some of the best in the country.  If you read any BASS or FLW results page you will always see a couple Okies near the top and several scattered throughout the checks listing.  This, in large part is a byproduct of the diverse bodies of water we are blessed with here in this great state preparing our anglers for conditions to be faced throughout the country.  Needless to say, these boys are serious about theyíre bassín! Especially with the big purses up for grabs as of late, and unless you want to give them your hard earned money every time you enter a tournament, you have to be serious as well.  For a young angler lacking 30 years experience on the lakes around here, there is only one way to even the odds, and that is to spend as much time on the water before a tournament as possible.  That means time away from home.

Letís just get this out of the way now, WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF YOUR FAMILY IT WILL NEVER WORK!!  The first person those guys thank on T.V. that just won a million bucks in a tournament after struggling for the last twenty years, is their wives!  There is good reason for that.

Your wife loves you and wants you to be who you want to be, but you have to remember to be real and understand that you also have to be who she wants you to be!  That is a husband that puts her, her wants, her needs, her children, her home, her budget, and her hair appointment above all else on your priority list.   A tricky proposition considering that youíre supposed to be fishing every weekend between the months of February and October.  During the past couple years, weíve been giving the bass and ourselves a break during July and August. So letís see.. That leaves November, December, January, July and AugustÖ.5 months out of 12 that are not spent fishing.  These are really the key months to your survival on the tournament trail.

July and August are too hot to fish anyway so take the wife and kids out boating and swimming.  Let them enjoy the big boat that sets in their yard all year.  Iím not going to say put skiís in the bass boat, (considered a sacrilege by many bassín purest! Myself included!), but I think that a tube is acceptable for the kids sake, as long as you stay way back in a cove so that no one will see you.  All kidding aside, let them reap some rewards from the boat.  Make it their boat too!

I like to refer to the months of November, December, and January, as Honey-Do season.  With the mild winters we have here, you can get a lot done around the house, inside and out, during these months.

Nothing like a remodeled room, and some fresh landscape work to get February off with a bang, sheíll be too busy decorating and ordering new plants to even notice fishing season is here again.  If youíre really good, you might be able to also slip a little duck hunting in during these months, to provide table fare for the holiday dinners of course.  Iíve found some really good bassín water while in waders blowing a duck call in December and January but she doesnít need to know all the details.  These hints cover the broad spectrum of the yearly plan, but as you all know, sheíll be bored with that new room and those flower beds about 15 minutes after she gets them the way she wants them.  That is usually about February 2nd when she discovers youíve reclaimed the boat as yours and have disappeared.   Weíre going to need a more focused weekly plan to keep the boat in the water and the home happy.

Letís see, weekends are out of the question, and my partner is single and seems to have a jackpot lined for every night of the week, so what to do??  We have kid activities, maintain a 2 acre yard, 4 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, a Pot Bellied Pig, chickens, ducks, bunnies, cats, and some things Iím sure I havenít even discovered yet that need taken care of. Not to mention trying to keep the house in one piece!  That is a lot to do and fish much!  Also you gotta understand that she is far too busy with all the stuff inside the house to take up your slack.  After all you want your tournament shirt pressed for Saturday right?  I recommend no more than one jackpot during the week. I know itís hard to let your partner fish with someone else, but be a big boy and take one for the greater good.  Maybe you can get in two jackpots, on the weeks you can get your stuff done before six on Friday.  Weeknights are for keeping the piece. Go to games, mow the yard, walk the dogs, watch a movie and get enough smoochin in to keep her content till you get back Sunday night.

For you guys that are single bassaholics, PAY ATTENTION!!! Be very careful in the selection of you wife to be.  Put her through the gauntlet before you say,Ē I DO!Ē and youíve got smooth water ahead.  If you go into marriage before showing her what sheís really in for, call me cause youíll be offering a good deal on that Bass Boat you used to hold so dear.  Make sure she stuck by you through at least a couple of seasons before you go to slippin on that 4/0 Mustad you bent so carefully into a ring for her during the Pre tournament meeting.

The babies are easy.  They love you regardless.  The kids, as long as you made the baseball game and the dance recital during the week, are good to go.  It is still smart however, to make them part of your fishing since it is such a big part of your life.  They are the next generation and it is our job to pass this great heritage down to them. TAKE THEM FISHING! Because remember, theyíll be off for summer vacations in the future and can pre-fish for you while youíre stuck at the office during the week. 

The kids love to help.  I make my pre-tournament ritual of re-spooling and bait selection a group event.  The beauty of kids is that as long as they are involved with you, they will really take the most medial of tasks and turn it into a grand event.  They love holding the screwdriver through the spool as I wind the line onto the reel.  I also always let them pick out the lures I tie on before heading to the tournament.  You know, ďThe one that will catch the big fish Daddy!Ē  Of course I quickly retie upon arrival, but they feel theyíve had a part in the process and even though Iím gone fishin, we did it together. 

The little rascals love weigh-ins!  Invite the family to partake in the fruits of all your labors on the water.  Of course if youíve blanked, the last thing you want is your son or daughter standing there tugging at your pant leg asking you why that guy has fish and you donít, so wait until youíve caught some fish and then call them on the cell phone and extend an invitation.  Take them on stage with you to weigh the fish and they will look forward those moments forever.

NOTE* All of the kid tactics mentioned above also score BIG points with momma!!!

Hopefully these tricks of the trade will help a few of you younger guys with families like myself, maintain that intricate balance between a happy home to return to after a long weekend on the water, and an empty tent in a city park because your ex wife and her non-fishing new husband are living in your house.  We can have both the fish and eat it too, but we have to keep in mind that our ability to enjoy our passions in life outside of the home depend solely on our ability to recognize the fact that we are only really there because they allow it.  Oh and one other thing, always remember to tie all those lures the kids picked out for you  back on before unloading your rods.  Believe me they will notice!