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The Throwdown Low-Down




Gooooooood morning, Alabama! KB here, and I hope you’re up bright and early because we’re going fishing! Ready, Soph?

 

*crickets*

 

Oh no. I forgot! Sophie’s on vacation this week! So sorry, folks. I guess I’m riding solo on this one… I hope I don’t mess it up!

 

Ring ring!

 

Huh?

 

Hey KB! It’s Sophie. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to finish up the fishing blog series. But don’t worry, I left you all the illustrations you’ll need! You got this! You won’t mess it up. See ya later!

 

Oh thank goodness! I’m about as good a cartoonist as Doug claims he is a captain!

 

Ring ring!

 

Wow, speak of the fisherman!


The Boys Are Back — On the Phone! — But First …


That’s right, folks! I managed to have another sit down with Kenny, Doug, and Jackson to finish out our fantastic blog series on this fall’s Three-River Throwdown. I wanted to get the full low-down on the last two tournaments, but before we get into that, let’s step back and get a little recap of the standings, shall we? If you need a refresher on how the Three-River Throwdown works, be sure to check out our very first fishing post here. All caught up? Good!

 

Now, this season, we’ve already seen the boys through the first three rounds of the Three-River Throwdown. In Round One on Lake Martin, Carson and Grant came in a very impressive 17th place out of 108. During that tournament, they really pulled out a wide variety of tactics — from careful top-water skimming to fishing deeper brush piles, the boys really showed up their ever-improving mastery of the craft of fishing.

 

Off to a good start, Carson and Grant moved on to Round Two on Lake Jordan with Grant’s dad, Doug, stepping in as a substitute captain while Jackson was unavailable. There, the team faced pretty tough conditions. According to Doug, it was chaos on the water as the water level kept fluctuating and sending the fish all over the place. Still, the boys kept cool heads, found a cozy little brush pile, and, as usual, far exceeded their limit. The boys came in 26th out of 113 that day, and their school team, the Benjamin Russell Student Anglers, kept their first place spot.



In Round Three on Lay Lake, with Captain Jackson Kelly back at the wheel, Grant and Carson pulled off their most impressive feat yet — first place! That’s right, everybody. Even competing against high school anglers with more experience, our boys took home the win! How did they do it? If you ask Kenny, the key was having more patience than the other teams. It can be tough to cast your line and simply wait for the fish to bite, but Carson and Grant really show their maturity in their willingness to wait for catches other teams leave behind. The boys caught an amazing 12.18 pounds of fish that day — a round of applause, please!

 

And that brings us up to Round 4, on Lake Eufaula. Kenny, Doug, Jackson — fill us in!


Back to Business!


Our boys are talented fishermen, but Lake Eufaula gave them a run for their money.

 

The day dawned cloudy and cold… and it only got cloudy-er and colder as the afternoon wore on. According to Doug, fishing in cloudy weather can be challenging because it’s tougher to trick the fish into thinking your lure is actually a tasty treat. He shared, “You can trick ‘em in the sun, but not in clouds. Your dance moves have to be a little better. A strobe light effect happens in the sun.”

 

When it’s nice and sunny out, that light bounces off your lure as you move it around the water, and that strobing effect makes it relatively easy to trick the fish into biting. But on a cloudy day like this one, the boys would have to be precise and rely on the accuracy of their casts and their ability to patiently wait.

 

Jackson encouraged the boys to continue on with their usual strategy — catch up to the five-fish limit as quickly as possible, then spend the rest of the day trying to catch bigger and better fish to up their score. Despite setbacks from the weather, they were fairly successful — it didn’t take long to catch any five fish, and the team was about as well on their way as they could hope for.

 

Meanwhile, plenty of other teams struggled to catch anything at all. “The fish really didn’t want to bite,” says Jackson. It do be like that sometimes.


Nevertheless, Carson and Grant powered through, and they did manage to catch a few more fish. They even caught two in exactly the same spot! Their overall weight improved a little bit by little bit and eventually, finally, it was time to head back to the dock for the weigh-in.

 

When all was said and done, Carson and Grant brought in 6.2 pounds of fish — not bad for such a tough day of fishing! That placed them in 21st place for this tournament, which is not shabby at all! And the Benjamin Russell team came away with a total of 888 points, giving them an 11-point lead on the runner-up and a nice, comfortable spot going into the final round.

 

In fact, Kenny pointed out, “Everyone gets to throw out their lowest score, so we’ve already won.”

 

It’s true. Benjamin Russell already has more than enough points to sweep away the other teams. But hey, there’s still one tournament left, and we’re here to have fun, improve our skills, and build our resumes! So… let’s find out… how did it go?


It’s the Final Countdown! (Duh duh dah daaaahhhhhh!)


The fifth and final round of the Three-River Throwdown on Lake Martin did not get off to a great start. Says Doug, “We had the worst week ever with equipment.”

 

It began during the pre-fish; Jackson was driving the boat as usual, when all of a sudden, an alert popped up — not one but two of the boat’s three batteries had died. “That’s unheard of,” says a still incredulous Doug. The crew called a mechanic, who strongly encouraged them to get off the water now.

 

No worries, they thought. This is okay, we can use Doug’s boat. Not so fast. When they tried to start up Doug’s boat, they quickly discovered a problem with the motor’s lower unit — one that would absolutely have to be fixed before they could take it out on a lake.

 

Now, the way Doug tells the story, he had given up hope. “I had gone into crazy mode,” he says, “That’s it. We’re done. We can’t fish tomorrow.” “Ah, the joys of boat ownership,” Kenny added. But Jackson, ever the cool-headed captain, called the mechanic again and found a couple of batteries they could borrow just to get through the tournament. The day was saved!


Now they just had to compete!


December 9th dawned … cold and rainy — not exactly ideal. Nevertheless, the boys headed out with determination and confidence. “I think they did really good! They went with the strategy,” Doug explains. Like on their previous rainy tournament days, Carson and Grant knew their best strategy would be to look for brush piles and laydowns, which are trees or tree limbs that have been deliberately placed in the water to provide shelter for the fish and thus good fishing waters. Our team found the spots that seemed most likely to yield good catches, and as usual, they racked up their limit pretty quickly and spent the rest of the day seeing if they could top themselves.


Now, at this point in the story, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is, as Doug puts it, “On Lake Martin, it’s sheer luck to catch a big fish.” Most of the spotted bass on Lake Martin are about the 1-pound and less range — not bad, but not seriously impressive. Catching a 2-pound or larger largemouth bass really comes down to chance, and this time around, we struck out. The boys fished their hearts out, and they caught about 7.6 pounds of fish — which is right up there with the top competitors — but none of them were the kinds of impressive lunkers likely to secure first place.

 

As bad news goes, though, that’s not too bad, and the good news is… our boys still came in 17th out of 128 boats! That’s amazing, particularly for a junior boat! And as if that weren’t enough, the Benjamin Russell team took home first place yet again. You may remember that Benjamin Russell has a track record for winning the Three-River Throwdown, so taking home another was no surprise, but the fact that our team came in first in every individual tournament is a true feat! Not only that, but it’s a tenacity to the quality of the coaching, the tenacity of the kids, and the love this team has for the sport. Three cheers for the Benjamin Russell student anglers, everybody!


Get Ready for the Spring!


Well folks, that wraps up another Three-River Throwdown. This season was full of ups and downs, but despite rainy days and last-minute equipment troubles, our boys still persevered and succeeded, and, of course, Benjamin Russell still pulled out another win. How do they do it? I couldn’t resist asking Kenny and Doug what they thought made our team stand out from the others.

 

“We (meaning the Benjamin Russell students) live on a lake, and these kids love to fish! We also have a lot of people who will serve as boat captains,” Kenny says. “I 100% agree with what you just said,” Doug chimes in. “I would also add — our school allows pre-fishing. Our school system does set us up so well.”



It’s true. Just like the old adage says, “It takes a village.” In the Benjamin Russell community, we have every component we need to succeed. Our kids absolutely love to be out on the water fishing! But we also have plenty of adults who are willing and able to take the kids out, give them plenty of practice time, offer coaching and advice, and help keep the kids safe on the water. Finally, we’re so grateful to have a school that allows the kids to be absent on the Fridays before tournaments to pre-fish; plenty of school systems only allow their anglers to pre-fish once or twice a season, giving their teams a disadvantage compared to those who are able to get on the water and scout out the prime fishing spots early. We couldn’t be more grateful to all the folks who pull together to make the Benjamin Russell student anglers so successful.




We also couldn’t be more excited for next season! That’s right, sports fans — we’ll be back in the spring with coverage of all new tournaments, hopefully following the boys all the way to the junior championship!

 

Thanks for joining us this season, everyone! We’ve had a blast, and we hope you have too. Until next time — 

 

— KB (and Soph — in spirit!)

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