I can’t speak for everyone, but the older I get, the less important my birthday is. Honestly, it’s just another day. Usually I’m not doing much, just working. If I’m lucky, and it falls on a weekend, I get to have dinner with my kids and parents. But, Birthday 2017 was different. I actually had plans! Oh, and they were not just any plans. I had signed up to fish the March 4th BFL Tournament on Lake Sam Rayburn- a three hour drive. Plans actually started in the early morning hours of March 3rd when I had planned to practice with Mike Trahan, a friend who was fishing the tournament as a boater. Practice was much needed since I hadn’t been on the water since I went trout fishing with Bill Lortz in New York in mid-January- while fun that had nothing to do with Sam Rayburn in March!
Practice was tough. I didn’t catch many fish, but as I always say, any time spent on
the water is time well spent! That evening at the pre-tournament meeting, the pairings were sent out. I was paired with Shane Howell, who prior to this tournament was sitting in 2nd place for AOY. I made the call to Shane to discuss the plan for the following day. After the meeting concluded, I headed to Cedar Tree Restaurant in Jasper with another friend, Leon Jefferson. Leon and I have something good in common- we both have had the pleasure of being paired with Phil Marks in previous BFL’s- and the pre-tournament dinner with good food and good friends has become a ritual. Turns out the Cedar Tree with Leon marked a personal “first”, my first time experiencing the taste of frog legs, which, now I know, actually do taste like chicken.
I woke up bright and early after a great night’s sleep at Rayburn Country Resort.
I walked out of my room at 4:40 AM to what sounded like a country music concert in the parking lot. I couldn’t help but smile, a perfect way to set the tone for the day. As I’m loading my gear into the car I hear someone say, “Is that you Misty Schmidt?” I went towards the voice over and Craig Lewis introduced himself. He said he recognized me from Facebook, which I found pretty comical. Craig was 2016 Co-angler of the Year in the Cowboy Division- a really nice guy who had since been very helpful offering me tips and advice.
I was grateful for his help and it was great to put a handshake and a face with social media assistance.
Everything was loaded, so it was time to meet my boater. Shane and I agreed to meet at the newly opened Tackle Addict. Arriving promptly at 5:15 am, I loaded my gear in Shane’s Falcon bass boat, hopped into his truck, and headed to the launch. Just before takeoff, I had to get a picture of the sunrise. It was one of those beautiful moments that had to be captured on camera. Shane chortled and said it reminded him of that meme that says “I know you got skunked, but at least you got a nice picture of the sunset”. I probably should have been thinking of the old saying “Red sky in morning, sailor take warning”. Instead I had hope, and my hope with any boater is that he/she will have a good sense of humor. Shane’s sense of humor appeared to be much like mine which gave me the confidence that we would have a great time.
At Shane’s first spot, we started fishing and getting to know each other. We actually did hit it off pretty well and before we knew it, we were talking about kids and families and sharing life stories. Shane was born and raised in Lamar, South Carolina.
He moved to College Station, TX in 2010 and started fishing tournaments in 2015. In the two previous BFL’s at Sam Rayburn, Shane had located some pre-spawn fish and kept getting into waves of them coming in to replenish. Unfortunately with the crazy winter we had in Texas, or lack thereof, the fish had started to spawn a lot earlier than we were accustomed. so, between a cold front and the fish being spawned out, Shane felt he wasn’t on anything to really give him an opportunity to compete. Hmmm, I detected a lack of confidence and that is never good. Well. the only fish I caught wasn’t a dink, but it wasn’t weighable either. Shane and I will probably laugh about it forever, and I will always swear that fish felt like it was too big to boat flip when I hollered for the net. It was only when I got it to the boat that I realized that it would not just be a day where I benefitted from my boater because he got a lot of free entertainment and laughter provided by me. It was a win-win situation, really, it was.
Rain, Rain Go Away
As we moved around to the next spot, the rain really started to come down. There were only a few brief breaks from the showers, so we put our heads down and just kept fishing. I shared with Shane how although my original plan was to practice and fish more in 2017,
I had put all that on hold to share with my oldest son the last half of his Senior year. That meant getting more practice time with the bait caster would also have to come later. Shane understood about my son, but he wasn’t having any part of my hesitancy to use the bait caster- not while I was on his boat! He actually stopped fishing, put down his rod, and opened his rod locker, pulling out one of his own. I believe his words were “You gon’ learn today!” After some encouragement from Shane, I started practice flipping. After all, that’s why I decided to fish the BFL’s- for me to gain experience and improve as an angler. Practice would make perfect.
Happy Birthday to me!
There’s something to be said for a guy who would put down his own rod during a tournament, pull out his own bait casting set up, and gives tips and encouragement on flipping. I would like to think that when I meet someone new, that I make a good impression so they leave thinking positively, maybe even with a smile because I had made them laugh- even if it is AT me.
Not sure Shane thinks that way but he definitely left an great impression on me that day. It was my 41st birthday and I was fishing a BFL with a great guy. He took the time to share his knowledge with me and that was probably the best gift I could have received that day. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing on many of my birthday’s, but I will definitely remember my 41st. After leaving the weigh-in I stopped to toss a rock for Dylan Poche. Then I began the long drive home. My focus on that drive wasn’t on the fish I didn’t catch. My focus was on the awesome day I had. Shane Howell is a true ambassador of all the best things in this sport. He’s someone I am proud to call a friend. I can’t express how much fishing has changed my life for the better. Friends like Shane truly inspire my desire to continue to learn more and keep living my passion!
iBass360 pro staff Misty Schmidt is from Mabank, Texas where she is the proud mother of 4 awesome kids. Misty embarked on a new adventure when she started fishing. It inspired a lot of passion in her life including sharing her experiences from tournament fishing to traveling to destinations in the Northeast to chase smallmouth. She hopes to inspire more women to pick up a rod and reel and enjoy the outdoors. Misty is grateful for the opportunity to represent some amazing companies as promotional staff including Frogg Toggs, Forage Lures, Bayou Kustoms, and MC Pro Jersey. She is also an active member of Pink Fishing.