Starting at the very beginning for me. WhenI say the beginning, it was the beginningof my professional career, the first yearI ever fished professional tournaments andit was the second event I ever fished as apro. Gosh, I remember it like it was yesterday. It was in the fall of 1999. It was on LakeChamplain, again, the second event I everfished as a pro, still kind of a little intimidated,all my heroes are out here fishing aroundme. Had a great first day, had an amazing secondday, weighted 24 pounds and I’m leading goinginto the last day of the event and trailingme is Rick Clunn, David Fritts, gosh, RandyFite, all these guys that I’ve read aboutfor years and what an unbelievable feeling. We’ve got a Bassmaster camera crew on me and,man, to say I was nervous is an understatement. We had a major cold front come through onthe final day of the event and I had beencatching early limited smallmouth that onlyweighed 13 to 15 pounds and then I would gorun and fish for largemouth. I used to mostlyisolate a largemouth, I was flipping aroundboat docks and reeds and isolated logs andtire reefs and all these kinds of things andI was getting really big, quality largemouthbites. Well, the last day of the event rolls aroundand I get to my first place and I decidedbefore to forgo the smallmouth altogether. I said, “You know, if I want to win this tournament,I want to fish for these big largemouth rightoff the giddy. ” And I get to my first spot,I drop the troll motor and I look at the watertemperature gauge and the surface temperaturehad dropped 10 degrees, literally, over night. I go to the first spot and fish 30 minuteswithout a bite. I go to the next place 30minutes. Well, after about 2 hours, 45 minutesof doing this, I don’t have a single biteyet, not a single largemouth. And so I end up in this area and I’ve gotthis camera on me, I’m kind of half-embarrassed. I’m not catching them and I’m thinking thatI’m going to blow this thing and I look acrossand there’s a smallmouth place where, in practice,I hadn’t fished it the whole event, but inpractice I caught a few 2-3 pound class smallmouthand I thought, “You know what? Let me runover there while I’m here, go try to get alimit real quick to settle me down and thenI’m going to go back and flip for largemouth. “Well, I run over there and remember the cameraboat’s with me this entire time, I get overthere and drop the trolling motor and I’mheaded up, getting close to this waypointand I’m casting a jerk bait and I throw thatjerk bait out there and I’m getting closerto my waypoint and all of the sudden, I hookone. I’ve got the first bite of the day andI’m fighting it and I see him jump way outthere and it’s not big. It’s like a two-pounder,I’m just like, “Okay. It’s the first fish,I’m excited. “And as it gets closer to the boat, Lake Champlain,crystal clear water, as it’s getting closerto the boat, I look down as I’m fighting thisfish and I see this massive black cloud behindthis little two pound smallmouth that I’mfighting. It’s almost like time stopped andI looked at that cloud and I was like, “Whatthe heck?” And in my mind, I’m thinking, “Isit a sea creature? Is it the blob? It is somethingfrom Creep Show, the movie?”And as I looked closer, all of sudden, I stoppedbreathing and I realized what it was and itwas a massive school of smallmouth from twoto four pounds, there must have been severalhundred of them all following this one smallmouthI had hooked. I couldn’t even breathe. I couldn’teven concentrate. I grabbed the buoy and droppedit. I kind of had to turn away, I couldn’teven look anymore. I flip the two-pounderin and on every cast for the next 45 minutes,I caught a fish. It was the most unbelievablelittle flurry of smallmouth action I everhad. But here’s where the story gets more interesting. So, the action was so fast and furious and,at the time, you were allowed to use a netin BASS in BASS events and I was hooking thesefish on the jerk bait and a lot of times,they would get caught, the treble hooks wouldget caught in the net and, to save on time,they kept getting caught and I was gettingfrustrated. I was getting scissors and everytime I cut, I’d cut the net just a littlebit because I wanted to just save on time. Well, finally I get to where I’ve cut a bighole in the net now and I finally hook a goodone, like a four-pounder. I’m fighting himon the jerk bait. I go to net him, it popsout of the jerk bait, but I’m excited, I’mlike, “Yeah!” I lift the net in and the fish,I had cut a hole in the bottom of the netand the fish falls out of the hole. And Ilose the best fish of the day. But wait a minute, it gets more interesting. So, I shake that off. I go back to throwingthe jerk bait and now I’m about an hour into catching them almost every cast. I’m notusing the net anymore. I’m swinging them in,but they stop biting the jerk bait real good. But they start biting a tube. What’s happeningis, I’m able to see the fish follow the jerkbait, they stop on it, but I have a tube riggedup to the eyelet on another rod and I quickreel a jerk bait in, I pick up a tube and,if I fire it out there real quick, over towhere I saw that fish, I’d catch them. So, now I’m like, “Oh my gosh. This is themost unbelievable thing. ” It’s all happening,it’s the last day of the event. And so I seea good one, like a three and a half pounder,follow the jerk bait and just stop. He doesn’twant it. I quick reel the jerk bait in andI put it down and I go to grab my other rodson the other side of the deck and I go tograb it and I go to flick open the bail andas I go back to make the cast, I hear a splash. I hear, “Kersplash!” Out of the corner ofmy eye, I look and my jerk bait rod is flyinginto the water. So I hadn’t made a cast yetwith the other rod and I barely grab it bythe handle and, in one motion, swing in thisthree and a half pounder. Well what had happenedis, when I reeled that jerk bait in real quick,it was laying on the top of the water andthese smallmouth were so aggressive, he cameup right next to the boat and ate it off thetop and it was unbelievable. Kind of three neat stories, all true storiesthat happened the first year that I ever tournamentfished. And I ended up winning that tournamentand won the second pro event I ever fished. But they’re the kind of things that happenon the water all the time too. So keep listeningbecause every blog we do, every time I talkto you, we’re going to have a new story foryou.