Rolling on the River, ESPN Outdoors style

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Watching the big orange sun climb over a forest of trees while screaming down the Alabama River at full speed in a Bumble Bee Bass Boat is an exciting way to greet the morning.

Let me back-peddle for a second.

Sitting at my desk Saturday night I received a call from Lee Youngblood asking me if I wanted to participate in the ESPN Outdoors BASSMASTER Weekend Tournament Series.

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Without taking time to consider the necessary preparations, I said a quick yes.

I met my fishing partner Howard "Earl" Richey at the City Marina at 5:40 Sunday morning and found out that we were the very last boat to blast off.

By 6 a.m., we were on our way.

Within an hour Earl had already landed two quality bass just from fishing along the banks of the river.

I, on the other hand, had not

been so lucky.

I was busy trying to untangle 300 feet of line from the backend of the boat.

By 8 a.m., I sat down and did a quick tally: Earl had caught two bass. I had caught one limb and one stump and maybe a rock.

Coasting along the banks, it became painfully obvious that Earl had caught the only two fish in the Alabama River.

If this were chess &045; the fish were setting me up for checkmate.

We packed up our gear and headed down river and into a slough that looked like a Louisiana bayou.

The spot proved to be a welcome change.

Four casts into the new spot and Earl landed a fish. Some

would have called the small fish bait, but it was a fish nonetheless. It also let us know that there was fish in the water.

After making a pair of passes along the banks of the slough and then back into the open water, Earl came out two fish richer bringing his total now to four &045; one away from the limit.

While Earl was searching for the fifth fish, I was sweltering and contemplating the meaning of life. Apparently the key to life involves sunscreen &045; lots and lots of sunscreen.

Still, over the course of the day, I learned a few other things.

Glasses and windshields look the same to bugs. I’m writing this looking around the 50 kazillion bugs that donated their life to my Calvin Klein specs.

Secondly, the best way to unhook a hook that has attached to a stump, limb or anything without gills basically, is to roll up the slack in the line and then poke around with your fishing pole.

Lastly and probably the most important thing I learned from today is that all-day tournaments are exciting -frustrating, sweltering and long- but still exciting. Earl went on to win eighth place with a catch over 10-pounds.

Griffin Pritchard

is the Times-Journal sports editor.