Karma’s a fish!

Steven Wintemute
Off the Hook

They were an odd couple, an amateur fisherman and a pro, but good things happen to good people so they were meant to be winners. The big fish was their destiny.

I am a big believer that what goes around comes around. Treat people they way you want to be treated and good things will happen. Two summers ago, while fishing in a bass fishing tournament, my tournament partner became a big believer in Karma!
The tournament was a one-day event, five-fish limit with the heaviest bag of smallmouth bass weighed to be the winner.

Steven and his tournament-winning bass.

The tournament was also a Pro-Am. A Pro–Am puts an amateur angler in the boat with a pro angler. It’s a great way to introduce anglers to the excitement and adrenaline-pumping action that tournaments offer. My amateur and I were having a pretty good day on the water when all of a sudden the weather turned nasty. Eighty km winds, sleet, hail and heavy rain. It was almost impossible to continue fishing the way the waves were crashing over the boat and we could not stand and fish safely. I decided we would troll for bass. This is a very unconventional way of fishing but hey it was the only option for us.

We managed while trolling to catch some very good fish but we really needed one big one. We needed it bad! I had lost a good bass earlier in the day; I could see the fish go airborne as it jumped out of the water trying to shake my hook. The bass split the hook. I was left speechless.

My amateur was distraught as he knew this fish could potentially win the tournament for us.   “Good things happen to good people, so don’t worry we will catch another!” I promised.

“I don’t believe in Karma” he responded. “I don’t wait for destiny. I make things happen.”

Later in the day we noticed another team waving their paddle in the air and desperately trying to get our attention. I motored over and saw their boat was stuck on the rocks in very turbulent  rapids. They needed help fast. If I put my boat on shore I would be disqualified from the tournament but it would be better to be disqualified than witness what would surely come next.

We beached our boat, put life jackets on top of our floater suits and swam out to them. We managed to push them off rocks and they paddled  safely away. We swam back to our boat which was now full of water, swamped from the waves and rain. Again my amateur looked at me with disappointment. “Don’t worry!” I said. “Good things come to those who do good for others.”

I’m sure by this time he was thinking I was looney tunes. Once we bailed out the boat we took off from shore. There were only 15 minutes left in the tournament. I figured even though we were probably disqualified we might as well fish and immediately headed back to the spot where I lost the big one.

I threw out one last long cast, and WAAM! I had a fish on and it was big. This time I didn’t make any mistakes and the fish didn’t split the hook. The trophy smallmouth bass was now in the live well and we headed to the weigh in.

My amateur was looking at me in disbelief. I knew what he was thinking. We pulled in on time back at the docks and the weighmaster and director of the tournament were there waiting for us. They congratulated us on saving the other team from sure disaster and told us they, and the other teams, voted and they were not disqualifying us. Wow!

We took our bag of fish up to the weigh scale. I knew we had the big fish of the tournament and that we had a good chance of finishing first. As luck would have it, we did clean up in the competition, winning the “big fish” competition, and first places in the tournament on both the pro and amateur side.

When asked on stage what we did to win the tournament, all I chose to say was, “Good things happen to good people. We were in the right spot at the right time!”

Steven Wintemute is general manager of Pegasus Publications and editor-in-chief of Hooked magazine.

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