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Man overboard!

12/29/2006

It was an ESPN web gem for sure. As I rolled over the side of the BassCat into the waters of Sam Rayburn, I thought "This can't be happening. I did not just fall out of my boat. Did I fall out of the boat?"

It all started with a spin pole. Spawn of the devil, those spinning rods are. Never have liked them and probably never will. To add insult to injury, I was using the spin pole to catch bedding fish — another technique devised by the devil. My least favorite tool and my least favorite technique; what a great combination.

I am in the back of a shallow flat with the Power Pole down anchoring the back of the boat and the push pole driven into the muck to anchor the front. I am casting about with my Zoom lizard — "Bass Love 'Em", it says so on the package — and I have just culled a mid-3 pounder.

Five feet away is another fish that appears to be a 4 pounder; just what I need. I start working it with the lizard and a Bass Pro Tender Tube, alternating to see which bait it reacts to. Unfortunately it can't stand the lizard which is, naturally, tied on the spin pole. Why can't it like the tube and the 65 pound Bully Braid?

The fish grabs my lizard and I react too soon, pulling the bait from its mouth. Putting on a fresh lizard with a little chartreuse marker on the tail and I am back in business. A few casts later and it is hooked up. Sure enough, it is a nice four pounder and it pulls me around with my little spin pole and ten pound fluorocarbon.

I finally get it headed to the boat and do the belly flop on the deck of the Puma. This is where it gets ugly. As I reach down to grab the wild fish, I see that it is barely hooked in the corner of the mouth; one of those blink-of-an eye observations. I make a grab for the fish and he has different ideas, namely a cartwheel, and the hook flies out. Crap!

I stretch even further over the side of the boat, desperate to put my grubby paws on the fish. I feel it swim over my hand as I get increasingly closer to the water. The barrel roll, back flip, right leg perfectly extended, triple toe loop was a sight to behold, or so says my co-angler partner, Keith Stephenson. He was nice enough not to laugh — too hard — until he was sure I was back in the boat and fine. Safe on the front deck, gasping for air, he was on the back deck laughing and gasping for air also. Glad I could be entertaining for my man.

It wasn't a true hat floater because it was only 2 foot deep. I did manage to get every single article of clothing on my body, with the exception of my cap, soaking wet. Nice. Here I am in the middle of Sam Rayburn wearing nothing but my Cabela's Guidewear bibs. Is that a pretty picture or what? It would have been better if someone had captured it on film.

It would have been better if I had put the fish in the boat.

It could have been better if I had arched my back a little more and maybe kept my leg straighter as I slipped over the side. Could have scored all 10's … maybe.