June 2 through June 10 marks National Fishing and Boating Week 2012. Just as I did last year, I carried my youngest son Cooper out to dip the hook in the water. Last year he caught his first fish. This year, he has already expanded on his species list bringing in his first catfish. And how he loves fishing!
|Drew Haerer and a Suwannee Bass|
I recently started following the exploits of Drew Haerer from Duke University. I have read some of his stories in the past, mainly because he is located here in North Carolina. Drew is an avid fisherman who enjoys self propelled transportation on water. In other words, he is hooked on fishing from a kayak. The sub-sport has been growing by leaps and bounds and those that do it are akin to fly fishermen or traditional bowhunters. It is almost like ‘extreme fishing’. No lazy days on the side of the pond. No, you must stay alert, mark the locations you feel are good spots, and either paddle upstream and float back down or float downstream and paddle back up.
Drew announced a couple of weeks ago he is attempting the B.A.S.S. slam. This is where it really gets interesting. The slam consists of catching all 9 species of black bass located in North America within a one year period. Since the species are located throughout the United States, travel and planning become a must.
So, in reading Drew’s goals, I was able to determine something within Drew’s spirit that makes him unique. He strives to take something difficult, compound it with obstacles that he puts in his own way, and still has the faith that it can be done. Drew’s ambition is to not only complete the B.A.S.S. slam, but he is adding in another bass fishing recognition program, the RiverBassin’ slam (they have slightly different measurement requirements in order to qualify), he is going to do it from his kayak, he is doing it only from public waters, and the waters will all be either rivers or streams. “I am not a big fan of guys catching huge fish in private water and then bragging about it all over the internet. So, I wanted to show how much great fishing is available in the public realm.” Drew went on to say, “I think if I can complete the slam, it will probably mean a lot more to me twenty years from now than any other fishing accomplishment.”
Drew and a friend of his, Bill Kohls of Reel Fishing NC guide service, took off on a rotation throughout the Southeast U.S. a couple of weeks ago. They scouted through the internet using Google, different fishing forums and communities, and contacted a state wildlife agency for clarification on the borders for one of the species targeted. I have got to admit, I like doing things a little ‘non-traditional’ as much as Drew, so I was hooked checking his status updates on his quest over the last couple of weeks.
Not only did they have to find the locations of the species, they needed to find public access to the rivers and plan their equipment properly. I asked Drew if he needed to use different lures and lines for the different species or was different equipment used simply for the conditions at hand. Do not let the word simply fool you, nothing was ‘simple’. Drew did have to fish more to the conditions and with the menacing storm Beryl bearing down on the Southeast during the trip, Drew and Bill would have to endure rain and wind along with the conditions the run-off and heightened fresh water would throw at them.
Still, Drew said confidence was a key, and he would continuously go back to what he was most comfortable with; a finesse worm. That confidence was a deciding factor in much of the success he enjoyed on the trip.
Setting goals and taking the task at hand to heart are things that many of us begin to understand once we become older and wiser. Experiencing the outdoors can help us relate to these attributes and become better because of it. “For me it came down to the challenge and the adventure. I mean, most avid bass anglers probably never heard of a Suwannee bass. Most of my favorite memories are trips with my family, friends, and girlfriend. Any time I get to spend with them is special…and even more special if we are catching fish!” Well said Drew, well said!