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The Boys in the Boat — Spring 2024 Fishing Season

Hey there, sports fans! I’m KB with the TerraX Sports Center, and we’re back with an update on your favorite and ours — the TerraX Fishing Team.

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, holding up their large bass fish catches.

Carson and Grant had another fantastic season out on the water this year. These boys fished hard, once again proving their tenacity, patience, and skill. This season had more than its share of tough moments — bad weather, low-bite days, new lakes, a particularly unfortunate duck, and a few fish hooks gone very awry, to name a few. In our recent conversation, Grant’s dad and frequent friend-of-the-blog Doug was ready to stretch the truth a little bit: “We may have to lie a little bit about this season! It was just some tough fights out there!” Nevertheless, our young fishermen persevered, and we could not be more proud of their incredible work this year.

This season had some high highs and low lows, and we’re excited to get into all of it today. Let’s go fishing!

Round 1: Lake Jordan

This spring fishing season did not get off to the start we were hoping for, to say the least! 

The Benjamin Russell fishing team poses for a photo after a fishing tournament.

Our fearless fisherman braved the waters anyway, but from the prefish, it was clear this was going to be a challenging tournament. Let’s get into some of the difficulties that came up at Lake Jordan…

  • The Coosa River — fishing on the Coosa is always tricky. You never know whether the fish are going to bite!

  • Bad weather — the day of that tournament dawned cold. The water didn’t warm up enough for many fish to be out and even slightly interested in biting until after our boys had already come back to shore and weighed in their catch.

  • Late bites — Maybe it was just the weather, maybe there were other factors, but whatever it was, those fish were just not biting until the afternoon. The kids who left the docks a little later fared slightly better than their earlier peers… like Carson and Grant, who had a very early boat number. 

  • Too many boats — For those who don’t know, Lake Jordan is not a very big lake — not quite big enough for three or four hundred boats to catch a lot of fish all at the same time. With that many kids on the lake, that meant there were two or three boats per decent fishing hole. Not that it mattered very much because of…

  • The ADULTS — That’s right, folks, one of the biggest obstacles on the water this tournament was the adult fishing league who was out pre-fishing for their own tournament to be held the next days. According to Doug, the kids just couldn’t find their way to a good spot around all those pro fishers. “You’d have thought that grown-ass adults would have made way for some young kids trying to fish, but they were hogging every hole and wouldn’t give way for nothing.”

Needless to say, that first tournament was a tough one. Not one boat from any of the teams participating caught the limit of five fish; in fact, the most any boat could catch was 3. Our boys came in 9th place that day, and Benjamin Russell still won the tournament, though, so we can’t be too upset, but y’all, that was NOT a fun day of fishing!

Round 2: Lake Martin

Ah, home again home again.

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, accept awards at the end of a fishing tournament.

Now you know after such a difficult first round Carson and Grant were happy to be back on their home lake. And yes, we know that many schools call Lake Martin home… we just believe it’s a little more our home. “They have just as much right as we have, but we don’t want them to think that,” says Doug. Anyway, our boys are out on Lake Martin almost every week, so we think they deserve it!

The Benjamin Russell fishing team poses for a group photo.

Being back home definitely boosted our confidence, and this  tournament was GREAT. Conditions were better on the day, Lake Martin is big enough to accommodate hundreds of boats, and the fish were biting! They caught the whole five fish limit and weighed in a grand total of 8.21 pounds, and though they probably could have won the whole tournament with just one more big fish, our team still came in 6th and Benjamin Russell won overall, so it’s tough to be too upset. Ah, if only every tournament had gone as well as this one! Unfortunately, however, things were about to take a rather loon-y turn…

Round 3: Lake Guntersville

Boats on the water prepare for launch in the early morning hours before the sun has risen.

Fun fact: In these multi-tournament fishing competitions, teams must choose four tournaments to fish in addition to the championship, and they have a wide selection of dates and lakes to choose from. For the third round, our boys decided to stretch their legs and try out a new lake — Lake Guntersville. They chose that lake because of its reputation for having exceptionally big fish, and they were excited about the opportunity to take their fishing skills to the next level. Doug, Jackson, and a couple of the other boat captains from Benjamin Russell went up a week ahead of time to pre-fish, and they felt pretty confident… but then a storm blew through. The boys did their best, but the storm had dislodged a lot of eel grass, which, for those who may not know, floats, and up on the surface, it catches your lures and your bait, making it exceedingly difficult to catch any fish!

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, and their captain, Jackson, drive their boat across a lake.

Our boys persevered as they always do, and they still caught enough to land in 8th place. With another Benjamin Russell team in 2nd, we still had enough to win the tournament for our school, but it’s fair to say the boys were still a little disappointed that day…

Our loon, however, was enormous.

You read that right. In this spring season’s wildest twist yet, Grant accidentally caught a 10-pound loon. In his defense, sports fans, please remember that competitive fishing teams today use lots of electronics on their boats to look for the locations with the most fish. These devices will show where the smaller “bait fish” and the larger predator fish — including the bass they try to catch in these tournaments — hang out. However, on the monitors, fish — and other animals — just show up as blobs. The read-outs from the electronics only show the rough sizes of the animals they pick up — not what type of animal they actually are. In other words — a loon blob looks just like a bass blob, so this sort of thing sometimes happens totally by mistake.

The Benjamin Russell fishing team poses for a group photo.

When Grant cast his line and felt a truly massive tug, he figured the rumors about the massive fish were underplayed — until he found a huge bird on his line. Of course, they couldn’t just cut the line and leave the poor bird to get tangled! Instead, the whole team spent the next 15 minutes carefully using a net to bring the bird into the boat, gently remove the hook, and finally release it back onto the water. Needless to say, it was not our finest moment as a team… but, in fairness, it was probably worse for the loon. We’re glad the boys were able to help save the poor guy, though!

Round 4: Lake Eufaula

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, fish in the background of a selfie taken by their captain, Jackson.

Carson and Grant blew us out of the water with this one, y’all. Lake Martin may be our home lake, but on Lake Eufaula, we dominated, and despite his claims about his lackluster coaching, it was in no-small-part due to Doug’s excellent coaching.

The Sunday before the tournament, by the time they left church, Doug and Grant were itching to get out on the water. They were out on the boat within an hour, and that’s when Doug decided to trust his instinct and head wayyyyyy down to the southern edge of the lake — much further south than they would usually go. Wouldn’t you know it, they found the most fantastic little hole just teeming with fish ready to bite? Every cast was catching!

As you can imagine, Doug showed up to the parent meeting later that week extra excited to share his find with the other coaches, but they just couldn’t believe it. That far south? Nah, that’s too far away — it can’t be worth going that far. Jackson took Doug at his word, though, and at his own pre-fish found the same thing — down south was the place to fish on Lake Eufaula!

The day of the tournament our boys — and the one or two boats who would listen and try Doug’s crazy idea — headed down south to start catching, and we’re here to say that the fish were just as eager to bite on tournament day.

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, smile with their plaques and award checks.

Carson and Grant caught their five-fish limit and weighed in a whopping — get this — 15.49 pounds. OVER 15 POUNDS, Y’ALL. That’s an average of more than 3 pounds per fish. If you’re one of our long-time sports fans (or if you know much about bass fishing!), you’ll know that’s pretty dang good. Talk about a great day for fishing! Our boys came in first place that day, which came with a pretty sweet cash prize! How will they spend it, you ask? Well, almost certainly on more fishing equipment, of course!

Round 5: Lake Wheeler

A pretty view of a lake under a cloudy sky with young fishermen preparing for a tournament on the dock.

Round 5, the championship round, is always the most intense. We’re riding high when we do well, and we’re feeling extra low when we struggle, but at the end of the day, some things are just out of our control.

We’ll go ahead and spoil the ending — Benjamin Russell came in second in the championship. It wasn’t the result we wanted, and after coming in first in every previous tournament, the loss stung pretty hard. But you know what? We still gave a good showing, and we have to remember that we couldn’t change the circumstances of the day, which simply weren’t in our favor.

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, smile with their catches.

Going into this tournament, we had a 12-point lead and full confidence meter. That gap should have been insurmountable, and we should have had no trouble taking home the top prize. The pre-fish ran pretty smoothly; Doug and Jackson caught a ton of big fish, but only before 10 AM, so they figured the best plan was to get up and out as early as possible and hope to maximize their time in the early morning. 

It was a good plan, and it would have worked, if it hadn’t been for the tornado warning. There was hail, lightning, all kinds of severe storms on tournament day, and according to official school rules for all sporting events, until the major weather warnings have been lifted, outdoor competitions have to wait. We should have been on the water the second the sun was high enough in the sky to see, but instead, our boys couldn’t leave the shore until after 9 AM — they missed their whole window.

The Benjamin Russell fishing team poses for a group photo.

At the end of the day, Carson and Grant came in 12th place, and the next Benjamin Russell team came in 20th. We fought hard, but with the best fishing hours behind us, we were just luck fishing, and the catches were less than we’d hoped for. Across 70 Benjamin Russell boats, we only caught 85 fish, and other teams didn’t fare much better, making for a disappointing championship tournament. “I’ve had nightmares every night since!” said Doug in our interview.

But you know what? There is still a lot to be proud of here. We could have given up entirely after the weather delay. We could have been bad sports and had negative attitudes. Instead, Carson and Grant — and the whole Benjamin Russell team — have held their heads high. They fought to the end, and they can be proud of how hard they worked this season. We tried out new lakes, caught as many fish as we could, and maintained our composure even on some challenging days. We may not have brought home the championship, but we still have plenty to be proud of.

The Great Fish Hook Mishap of 2024

Oh, and those fish hooks gone awry we mentioned? Yeah, that was a low moment for our friend Doug.

For the championship tournament, another Benjamin Russell boat sorely needed a captain when their regular was unable to make it. Doug kindly stepped up and volunteered to fill in, and he was glad to do it! That is, until one of the poor kids — on probably the third cast of the day — caught Doug right under the collarbone with not one, not two, not three, but four fish hooks.

Sports fans, on tournament day, this blogger happened to be visiting family in Atlanta, GA — about a four-hour drive from Lake Wheeler — but I’m here to tell you I heard those yelps and screams from all that way away!

“I was so damn mad, and I was holding so much anger, I couldn’t feel the pain for the anger!” Doug exclaimed in our interview, and keep in mind y’all, they’d been out on the water for less than 10 minutes. They ended up calling Captain Jackson over on Carson and Grant’s boat, who drove over and pushed out all the hooks. After that, Doug bravely went right back to captaining — though he was careful to stay well clear of fishing lures for the rest of the day!

Thanks for a Great Season!

Two young fishermen, Carson and Grant, their captain, Jackson, and Grant's dad, Doug, smile

“Coming in second still speaks highly of the team! But it’s still heartbreaking. We should look at it as a great success, but it takes time to look back at second and say it was a good season.” It’s hard to disagree, Doug, but the TerraX team is super proud of the boys! Carson and Grant worked hard this season, and they fished like true pros — they rolled with the punches and kept up their good attitudes even in the face of bad circumstances, and that’s a tough skill to master. Thanks for a great season, team!

And thanks to you, loyal sports fans, for continuing to support us! We’re proud to sponsor this team and invest in our community, and your support means a lot. Thank you for reading and sharing in our highs and lows. We hope you enjoyed this season recap!

We’ll be back soon with another fun blog post, Xplorers, but until then, keep xploring!

— KB


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