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SHANE BROWN: The bass fishing tournament reeled me in

SHANE BROWN: The bass fishing tournament reeled me in

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If there's a silver lining to be found in this pandemic, it's that isolation and quarantine can often be educational. Every day, I'm learning something new.

For instance, this week I learned there really IS such a thing as 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning. Until now, I honestly wasn't sure if Saturday HAD mornings.

I've spent the last 30 years moonlighting as a DJ at dance clubs and parties. On most weekends, I'm lucky to make it to bed before sunrise and wake up at the crack of noon. But thanks to the party-pooping pandemic, I'm not jockeying too many discs these days. As a result, I've found myself keeping the same sleep schedule on the weekends as I do during the week. Can't say I'm a fan.

What do people DO at 6 a.m. on the weekends other than sleep? I'm not sure I've figured it out. But this weekend, I saw something I'd never experienced before.

By and large, I am NOT a sports enthusiast. I was always the last guy picked in gym class, I've never found bowls to be particularly super, and I'm the only person I know whose college transcript contains a P.E. credit for "Independent Study Walking." But for reasons I can't begin to explain, I love NASCAR. I've tried to hate it, I swear. I'm fully aware that NASCAR culture stands in direct opposition to, well, everything else about me. But I've long come to terms with my secret shame. I like to watch cars go around in circles. Sue me.

Last weekend was the kickoff to the 2021 NASCAR season, so when I went to bed on Friday night, my TV was still tuned to Daytona coverage. But when I woke up at 6 a.m. Saturday, the sports channel wasn't showing action on the track. It was showing considerably less action -- on the water.

I had accidentally tuned into live coverage of a bass fishing tournament. And for two of the weirdest hours of my life, I watched it.

I've never understood the "sport" of fishing. I appreciate that getting out in nature can be zen and tranquil and relaxing. I sometimes enjoy nature, too. I've just never thought, "You know what would make this nature better? If I could kill some of it." (Except wasps. Nature would be lots better with more dead wasps. If ESPN aired a wasp-killing tournament every Saturday morning, I'd set my alarm to watch.)

Now, before the greater fishing community of the bi-state area gathers their pitchforks and demands my head on a fish taco, I know I'm being hypocritical. You can't take me seriously when I have a fridge full of tuna steaks and salmon patties. Fish are tasty, and if catching them is your bag, don't let me stop you. Fish away. Just don't get upset when I don't tag along.

Begrudgingly, I accept fishing as a hobby -- but waking up early on a Saturday morning to watch OTHERS fish on TV in real time? That's where I draw the line. And the rod. And the reel.

My worry was that a televised bass-fishing tournament would be nothing but people floating around on boats in stoic silence. After watching the riveting action for two hours, I can now tell you with some authority: Yes, that's exactly what it was.

In the first hour, one guy caught one fish. They replayed it five times. They awarded it "Replay of the Day!" It was pretty much the ONLY play of the day.

Yet despite the lack of any action whatsoever, it didn't stop the pair of tense, hush-voiced announcers from offering crucial insight. The coverage was peppered with commentary like, "He's got a talent for knowing what's on the end of his line," and "there's a hundred thousand cypress trees lining this river, and under one of 'em, there's gonna be a spawning female. And when you find her? WHEE DOGGIE."

Whee doggie, indeed. The competition was intense. At one point, a guy named Gary caught a fish that weighed 4 ounces less than the one caught by a guy named Bryan. But Gary was fishing along the edges of a cypress grove, while Bryan was center lake fishing off some reeds. This was a unique strategy because it had rained earlier followed by quick sunshine, which led Bryan to believe that spawning females would naturally migrate towards a more --

Annnd that's when I changed the channel because I realized I was thiiiis close to finding a tiny element of bass fishing interesting.

But the true excitement came during a commercial break, when I discovered that thankfully, there's still time to enter a draft for the 2021 bass fishing FANTASY LEAGUE. That's right, you can draft a fantasy team of your favorite real-life bassmasters and vicariously live the excitement of standing motionless in a boat for hours. No offense to the world of pro bass fishing, but I just assumed these tournaments were held on a Saturday so these guys could get back to their day jobs on Monday.

Here's where I got my REAL pandemic education of the day: Bryan ended up beating Gary and won the tournament. His total tourney haul of 79 lbs., 7 ounces netted him a take-home of $101,000. I can crack snide jokes about fishing all the live-long day, but no one's ever handed me $101,000 to DJ a party, even though I'm pretty sure I could rock a dancefloor better than Gary OR Bryan.

So here's to you, competitive bassmasters of the world, and any of you weirdos who wake up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday to watch them. Now if you'll excuse me, I have fish sticks to get in the oven. It's almost time for my fantasy league draft. I call dibs on Bryan. Whee doggie.

   

Shane Brown will be on hiatus for the next few weeks, but will return asap.

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Good columnists usually have a purpose to their writing. Opinions they wish to convey, points they'd like to make, reasons for putting pen to paper. It's a good thing I'm not a good columnist.

I've spent most of the winter stuck at home enjoying a fun menu of health issues, which has been just swell. And when you're spending most days in the same room on the same couch convinced you're dying, you start to go a little stir-crazy. I've spent months looking for an escape to take my mind off winter, the pandemic, and the fluctuating state of my colon.

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