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Getting started on the right foot

3/20/2008

Well ... this is my first blog, and I must say I am very honored to share my perspective (and also my son's) with the fans of ESPNOutdoors.com.

As many of you endure winters consisting of miserable cold weather, shoveling snow, bundling in more layers of clothes than I have in my entire closet, I realize how fortunate it is to live in the South.

(Especially southern Louisiana, where it truly lives up to its moniker of "Sportsman¹s Paradise.")

Now to say that our winters are perfect would be far from the truth, but for the most part it is quite pleasant around here. Not to rub it in, but today, for example, it is going to be in the 80s, sunny — but on the downside, quite breezy.

We have had a great winter so far: The ending of our duck season seems to have had resounding, if not traumatic effects on some. Especially for Michael, as his normally upbeat mood matches that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when the mere mention of "good morning" is returned with a very abrupt "what's so good about it?"

Of course that sarcastic tone reminds me of exactly how I was when I was 18; and then I'm reminded by my wife, Lori, every time I turn and ask her, "Where does that attitude come from?"

That being said, I knew the only antidote available: a quick redfish trip.

The past three months have been outstanding for the reds and I knew just the spot to head for: A couple of days ago, I found an area loaded with beautiful fish in the 7- to 25-pound range, and with the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup tournament season fast approaching, I could kill two birds with one stone, by catching some fish and polishing our skills for the upcoming tournaments, as well as putting a huge smile back on his face.

The recipe worked well, as the day was a total success, with probably 50 reds released between the two of us, many of which were caught while sight casting.

That brings me back to the "polishing our skills" part.

With the season fast approaching and the first tournament being in Punta Gorda, our skills will be tested at the highest level. Even though our schedules will not allow us to pre-fish the Punta Gorda area until the week of the tournament, any time on the water, no matter where you are, allows you to watch and study the attitudes of the fish and polish your own skills — especially spotting and presenting baits to the reds.

Accurate casts and precise presentation ... We certainly know and understand how valuable these tools will be in Punta Gorda. Michael and I will spend many days on the water between now and then working as a team. We are very competitive, but also understand the talent that comes from the Tampa Bay south to the Pine Island area: Anglers such as the Watts, Friday, Lathum, Johnson, Ochs, Keller, Faulkner, Chambers, Merriwether, Bostic, Sepe, and Howard, just to name a few, who year after year always seem to produce in Punta Gorda.

Tournaments to me are like Christmas to a 5-year-old. I anxiously await the beginning of every season. Preparing boats, equipment, tackle, studying maps, going over old notes, laying out strategies or a game plan consumes every minute of my free time.

Sounds like work and it is, but to me it's therapy. Therapeutic treatment that is needed until Bob Seally's voice radiates from the radio speaker on my boat and I hear "Frenette and Frenette, you're cleared to go."

— Mike Frenette