Up the creek without a passport

Aug. 03, 2013 @ 06:09 PM

In last week’s column, I promised to tell you about the rest of my trip to Lake Champlain in New York where I was fishing in the FLW Everstart bass tournament. 

Let’s start with how I ended up 5 miles across the Canadian border without a passport.

While out scouting for good fishing spots on the north end of the lake on the Sunday before the tournament, I decided to fish as close to the Canadian border as possible without going over.

I looked at a paper map and at the GPS map in my boat and decided that as long as I stayed south of a long point of land that jutted into the lake, I would be in the US of A. Unfortunately, the point I saw on the maps and the point I saw with my eyes were two different points, but not realizing that I drove over the border and started fishing.

And I didn’t just go a little way across the border. I was close to 5 miles into Canada when I realized where I was. 

I was faced with two options: 1. Turn myself in to Canadian border agents. 2. Take off flying for the U.S. border and hope for the best.

I chose the latter.

Arriving at where I felt was the U.S., I was relieved to see no one chasing me and began to fish. After about 15 minutes of traveling slowly down the shoreline fishing, I saw a big buoy with a lot of words on it.

Wondering what it said, I was shocked to discover that it was the marker buoy for the border, clearly stating that anyone passing by that point must immediately report to Canadian immigration under penalty of imprisonment and fines. Again faced with the same two options, I chose to run for it.

And here I am. Hopefully they don’t read The Dispatch in Canada.

After a relaxing week of fantastic fishing, the tournament started off well except for losing one big fish the first day. Knowing that this would hurt my final standing, I headed back north with plenty of time to make the 75-mile ride back to Plattsburg. 

Unfortunately, about halfway back my engine began to skip, and moments later I was sitting dead in the water in the middle of nowhere on the big lake.

Fortunately, another contestant also headed north stopped to help, so we loaded our fish in his boat and my co-angler left for the weigh in while I stayed behind to figure out how to get home.

To make a long story short(er), I ended up getting towed to a marina by a beautiful young girl who I met at a remote cabin, then got a ride back to get my truck and boat trailer, came back and got my boat, carried it to a friend’s in Vermont and left it while he loaned me his boat so I could compete the next day. 

On the way to his house, I almost hit a young moose that ran in front of me while I was looking off to the right at an old home place.

When I looked back to the road, there he was running along in front of me looking back over his shoulder with a deer (or moose?) in the headlights look in his eyes.

Thank goodness for anti-lock brakes. The bad news was this all took until the wee hours of the night so I got very little sleep. And the boat I borrowed was full of maggots because he’d forgotten a fish in his live well a week earlier in the hot summertime.

Despite repeated cleanings with Clorox, the boat still had the bugs crawling everywhere.

Despite all these obstacles, I ended up making a huge comeback on day two, moving from 90th place up to 28th, just barely missing the big money by a few ounces.

Oh well, it was fun and I am that much closer to a big win. The boat ride in to Plattsburg that second day was the roughest I’ve ever been on. 

The steady 25 mph wind had 6-foot waves whipped up, but I drove right through them at 40 mph in a 19-foot boat to make the weigh in with 34 seconds to spare. At least most of the maggots got bounced off the boat.

On the way home the next day, I again pushed the limit and barely made it to a remote gas station on fumes. Luckily, they had diesel and I pumped 24.7 gallons into a 24-gallon tank.

And the roads were terrible in Pennsylvania. I saw two trucks on the side of the road missing wheels because of the huge potholes on the Interstate along a two-mile stretch. A motorcycle rider would be in big trouble. After driving for most of the night I arrived home at 5:30 a.m. Sunday and slept all day. I can’t wait to get back up there again next year.

Kerr Lake fishing report – Stripers are still in big schools in deeper water (45–80 feet deep) between Henderson Point and the Kerr Lake dam. Bass are biting jigs and crankbaits 15–20 feet deep.

Upcoming area tournaments – Next weekend, there’s an ABA on Gaston on Saturday, Aug. 10 launching out of Holly Grove and Brandon Grays Kerr Lake tournament Sunday, Aug. 11, launching from Occoneechee.

Next week’s report – Kerr Lake fishing report. I plan to catch some stripers for the freezer.

Tip of the week — When fishing deeper water with a football head jig, remember to match the weight of the jig to the conditions. If fishing water is less than 10 feet deep, a lighter 3/8 ounce jig will work. Use heavier jigs for deeper water. I like a 3/4 ounce jig for water up to 20 feet or so.

Contact the writer by email at waltbowen@yahoo.com, on Facebook under Walt Bowen, and on twitter at @WaltBowen.