The 3rd annual ICAST cup was certainly one for me to remember. Not necessarily for the win or the angling camaraderie but for a more personal connection with god and nature. Below is a personal story of that experience from my point of view. Take it for what you will. It’s a story I have personally shared with my own angling friends, family, and coworkers and if you’ve bothered to come here I might as well share with you…
As luck would have it all started last week with a call from FLW looking for more Media attendance for the 2017 ICAST CUP. As an annual ICAST attendee I debated for a while whether to attend the cup this year due to the conflicting schedule with ICAST’s other Super Tuesday event “On the Water”. Having attended the previous two ICAST Cups, as well as its experimental precursor, Tackle -X, I knew what much of the field would be in for with regards to summer bass fishing on Florida’s fickle waters, a tough bite. Being a Floridian I have full understanding that in other to succeed at tricking the mircopeterus salmoides in summer. Not only do you have to be “on em“. You have to be on them at the right time.
I honestly contemplated not showing up and just attending the “On the Water” event that was recently moved from its previous location at Big Toho Marina over to the North Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center. However, one of my co workers quipped “You only regret those chances in life you don’t take” . Mulling it around with the usual, pick me up, overzealous hyperbole. So with that in mind I took the off chance and signed myself up.
Understanding the usual premise of the tournament I was excited to learn that I would be paired with a well known Elite Series pro along with a well known OEM. Great! I thought to myself. This should be a fun opportunity to get out on the water and kill two birds with one stone. I can catch some fish and try out some new gear! On the day before the cup, like any person would do. I decided to touch base with my team mate(s) to discuss the usual morning details of, where to meet, what to bring, what to expect, etc.
Much to my chagrin I was informed I was subsequently booted from my pairing in favor of another group of individuals… I understand how these type of things work in industry. Typical promises and favors called in to get so and so in and bump some other guy out. Maybe it was just miscommunication. I will never know. I didn’t take it personally. Sometimes that just business. I get it.
After that phone call I started thinking to myself. “Maybe I should just forget it.” This industry as dynamic as it is and as it has become doesn’t seem to hold itself to a higher standard. It gets talked about like its common place, but as an industry outsider looking in year after year I see a multitude of examples of just the opposite. Stolen designs, stolen IP, product corners cut, sponsorship deals cut, dedicated promotional teams cut, professional staff cut, stolen way points, stolen intellectual property, and general lack of on the water etiquette all in the name of profit. It’s sometimes sad to see but its the honest truth that this sport is becoming if not already become.
At any rate, I ended up getting back in touch with FLW outdoors to see where I would end up and was surprised to be paired up with the Florida USA Bassin Team of none other than Richard Patterson and David Smith.
Having never met Mr. Patterson before it was a certainly a name I could never forget. I distinctly recall Mr. Patterson’s name from seeing his 29 pounds, 6 ounces hit the scales to win a 2013 April BFL tournament. An impressive feat in itself. Yet, I personally, vividly, recall due to the events that occurred that day. I was also fishing that day as a co angler in the second lake of the chain amongst a number of local boats. I would certainly be reminded the potential power of the Toho chain that day.
So Flash back to April 2013 with me for a moment…
The pattern was pretty well defined as groups of bass were staged up on offshore hydrilla lines. A number of boats were working these hydrilla “walls” in deeper water adjacent to shell beds looking for the mother load of wolf packs to turn on. My boater draw was “on em” and was dialed in. I was stoked. Yes, I know being a co can sometimes be luck of the draw, but being on the right fish doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll catch them if its not the right time.
I recall rolling through the primary area that day and we both immediately catch 5lb+ fish that go in the live well. Add a few more keepers and boom we both limited out. Hell Yeah! …But that was it… we grinded and grinded for about an hour and nothing, nada, maybe they were done feeding, maybe they were gone?
The biggest thing I learned that rainy April day in 2013, is much like other Florida lakes, schools of bass tend to group by size, and on the Toho chain this was most certainly the case. You see the biggest mistake I learned that day is we moved off the juice at the wrong time. We moved off the spot too early, got too impatient. As crowded as Lake Cypress was that morning, we moved off that small patch of water to poke around and another competitors boat moved right on in and did the unthinkable but fully legal (he pulled up his trolling motor). Per FLW rules a boat is considered anchored once his trolling motor is up and its understood that a 50 yd keep away zone is established to other boats. We did what we had to do and play by the rules we had to move off the spot.
That dynamic Florida morning was forever eteched into my head. I’ll never know exactly how many Kissimmee chain monsters were against that particular hydrilla wall that day. All I know is that for the next 4 hours I watched as over 50lbs of Florida strain largemouth were slowly put into the live wells of that anchored Ranger boat as we could barely get a bite 50 yards away.
(As memorable as that sight was I would later lose a custom piece of gear. A 6’8″ Kistler Zbone to the depths of Lake Toho after a last minute cull, my only hopes is some angler had managed to snag it and is enjoying it for all its worth)
Back at the weigh in I could not recall my bag weight but ended up somewhere in the top 10. The boat that pulled 50+ lbs of Florida bass that day off that small offshore spot had the winning co angler and 2nd place boater that day. Yes 2nd place. I remember watching that weigh in, in the pouring rain in complete shock. It seemed as if the Big Toho had served my boater and I an injustice that day. That is all the way up until Mr. Richard Patterson himself slammed the winning weight down to take the win. As a lifelong South Florida bass angler, I’ll never forget that day.
Enter the ICAST cup 2017
So I contacted Mr. Patterson that evening to set up our details for the ICAST Cup on Tuesday. I was excited to put a face to the name and tell him my personal recollection of that particular BFL event.
Tuesday morning I met up with Richard Patterson and Dave Smith. Two Florida friends that simply love to bass fish. Passionate guys (like myself) that just enjoy fishing and competition. Out on the lake it was interesting to witness their team dynamic. Always discussing pattern detail, checking bottom contour, depth and composition. Coolly, calmly, efficiently. They make a great team and their laid back demeanor was enviable. I, like a number of other anglers, tend to get too jacked up first thing in the morning. Sometimes that excitement makes you “over fish” a spot and miss cues on what the fish are doing. Not for David Smith and not for Richard Patterson.
The predominant pattern was the same offshore hydrilla pattern I was privy too that memorable April 2013 day and the cup results are another example of the potential of that pattern. The commonality is the window of time. Those fish were feeding right at the window we arrived. We caught them fast and we caught them hard. Then they turned off and basically stayed off. We had the company of another boat first thing on this general scattered hydrilla infused area. By the time we left 7-10 other boats were there treading water like we were. Such can be the fickle nature of the Big Toho in the Summer time.
So it looks like now Mr. Patterson if you ever find yourself reading this you have en-grained two distinct days of bass fishing on the Toho/Kissimmee chain into my memory whether by some twist of fate or other malevolent force. I am honestly not an overly religious person. But I can’t deny that sometimes in fishing we as anglers experience metaphysical moments that transcend logic and touch upon us.
I remember recalling that Richard said a prayer that morning before we got started. I could not get every word or understand its full meaning amidst the chaos of boats at take-off . But he continued his routine and spoke these words as routinely as we all buttoned up our life jackets and took off into the lake.
After our flurry of madness and putting 20+lbs of Lake Toho bass in the well. I just honestly laughed at the strange chaos and subsequent serene calm of the moment. Us three Floridians, doing what we all love, in that Ranger bass boat, enjoying an atypical cool breeze, shielded by the random clouds on a hot July Florida morning. This random thought entered my brain.
“So Richard why do you recite that particular prayer?”
To paraphrase Richard “I once had a two day event I fished where I did terrible the first day. I must have had two fish all day”. “The next day my co angler draw pulled this little piece of paper out and recited this prayer before we got started” “By the end of the day I had over 20lbs in the boat and asked him if I could keep that piece of paper!”
I would come to learn that what resides on that paper is 91st tsalms
King James Version (KJV)
91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
I would also come to learn that this prayer is typically recited to invoke protection before one embarking on a journey…
Honestly, I’m not sure where my journey is taking me. Or what it all means…
But after spending so many days out on the water I’ve just come to believe that sometimes the universe talks to us anglers out on those waters we fish. Amidst all the distractions and stresses of daily life, maybe we as anglers and people should take heed and be receptive to the messages it brings.