If you have followed my “fishing story” you already know how fishing helped me find myself after a very rough patch in my life. But you may not know that fishing has brought a lot of good, interesting people into my life as well, many of whom are now good friends. What really is amazing is that a lot of these friends first heard of me through this Facebook post…. a meme that seems to have gotten more hits than the American Top 40. Who’d have thought a meme shared on Facebook could bring such blessings.
When I think of how far I have come in my bass fishing, I realize how much I’ve learned, how much I’ve traveled to gain more knowledge and especially the friends I’ve made along the way. One special friend who is not new to my journey, is my iBass360 colleague Tim McCasland. Tim and I go back 25 years, long before I discovered fishing. But it was discussions with Tim, a reliable source for any questions I have pertaining to fishing, that ultimately resulted in us considering joining the FLW BFL, despite the fact that he had been off the water for a while. I had remembered, as a teenager, how much Tim loved fishing. Who better, I thought, to share my first attempts at tournament fishing than a trusted friend that shared the same passion for fishing and who knew why this was so important to me? The best part is, it wasn’t hard at all to convince Tim to get back to something he loves. So, in October, 2015, we set out to conquer the BFL Cowboy Division as co-anglers- we only had 3 months to prepare for our first tournament.
As my luck, or bad luck, would have it, I had some issues that prevented me from fishing the first 2 tournaments of 2016 season, and Tim had to go without his travel partner. Despite having to find his own way, for the 2nd BFL event of the year, held on Lake Sam Rayburn, Tim was paired with Brian Martin, son of legendary angler Tommy Martin. Tim finished in 13th place, and, no surprise to me, he cashed his first check in the FLW as a co-angler! By summer’s end, and as September’s Super Tournament quickly approached, I knew that, even though I had also cashed my first check as a co-angler, Tim was the one in a position to advance to regionals.
That Super Tournament was an especially tough one for me. Not only did I weigh-in a big Zero, I made the serious mistake of forgetting my sunscreen in the truck. Hey, it’s Texas- we do everything big! So after a long, hot, sunny day. I not only came off the water with no fish, I had a Texas-sized sunburn, my worst in many, many years. I hope I don’t need to remind you how serious this can be. I got sick, really sick. I knew it would be some time before I could catch up with Tim as he wasn’t due to weigh-in for a while. As sick and overly emotional as I was, a friendly face is exactly what I needed. This is where some of my new friends came into play. Rewind the calendar to April 2016. It was at the meeting on the night before my first BFL tournament, when I met Torica Whitty, a retired Army Veteran
and one of the few lady anglers (on the boater side) in the Cowboy Division. Meeting her will forever stand out in my memory. It was after the meeting’s conclusion when I saw Torica and began to make my way over to introduce myself. She grabbed me and hugged me like she had known me for a lifetime. Then she began introducing me to her family. One of those “family” members included her best friend, Nancy Wallace.
Now fast forward back to Super Tournament September – I am coming off the water on day one empty handed, disappointed, and feeling sick. It was Nancy who greeted me with a smile and a much needed hug. She was precisely what I needed at that very moment to lift my sunburned spirits. It wasn’t long after that when I was approached by Jeff “Frogman” Grubbs, an Air Force Veteran also fishing the Cowboy Division. A nice guy who also helped buoy my spirits, it’s really awesome that Jeff, and his wife Pam, do well fishing the Texas Bass Couples tournaments.
Just a few brief minutes after Jeff’s good cheer, I see a tall familiar looking gentleman sporting a big Texas grin, heading my way. Of course that would be Phil Marks, my first boater from my first tournament- the one whose advice helped me cash that check- and with whom I had forged a special bond. With all these friends offering me encouragement and well wishes, suddenly my tough day on the water didn’t seem to sting quite as much- certainly not as bad as my sunburn!
Sam Rayburn was where I began and ended my first BFL season, but that wasn’t the case for longtime friend Tim McCasland. While I turned my attention to planning and anticipating my October fishing trip to New York, Tim began preparation for the regional tournament on Arkansas’ Lake Dardanelle. I am so proud of and excited for him! I look forward to covering this next “chapter” of Tim’s fishing career.
We all have to face the mirror, and looking at it realistically, I have to say my first year tournament season was inconsistent, and at times, overwhelming. 2017 will no doubt present new challenges for this novice angler. I’m curious to see in what direction my journey will point next. I’m very fond of where it’s taken me so far. My Dad says to look back each year and see where you were and make sure you are progressing, that you are better off than you were a year ago. It’s really about progress, not perfection I think. I took a chance and jumped into something for which many said I wasn’t ready. Ready? Since when is it a requirement for a person to “be ready” before they can undertake something they love? Maybe the journey isn’t about becoming anything in particular but more about un-becoming things that aren’t really you and allowing you to be who you were meant to be in the first place.
If this season taught me one thing, it is that I’m certain that I’m meant to fish, even if it took me almost 40 years to get on the right path J
For everyone who has been a part of my journey – THANK YOU – especially the friends who remind me to stay focused and allow the fun to fuel my pleasure and passion. Sure, maybe I wasn’t quite ready by some people’s definition, but life is too short for “I wish I would have’s” or “what if’s”. You have to take chances- lots of them. You’re never too old to have new goals and dreams, so find your passion and pursue it!
iBass360 Pro Staff Misty Schmidt is from Mabank, TX where she is a proud mother of 4 awesome kids. She is a mobile Phlebotomist for Home Care Image Services and is also employed by Walmart. Misty embarked on a new adventure when she started fishing. It inspired a lot of passion in her life and through her work in fishing, she hopes to inspire other women to pick up a rod and reel and enjoy what the outdoors has to offer. Misty is grateful for the opportunity to represent some amazing companies as Promotional Staff for Forage Lures, Bayou Kustoms, TRC Covers, Brush Pile Fish Attractants, MC ProJersey and an active member of Pink Fishing. She fished FLW ‘s Cowboy Division of the BFL cashing her first check as a co-angler in 2016. Misty has provided a number of articles to the iBass360 blog for which we are very grateful.