‘Revenge’ in California

What started as misery in the California Delta on the BASS Elite Series Left Coast swing turned to gold in the Golden State this week with a 29th-place finish. Like I said in my Delta Tour Summary: I was zero for five in check collecting in California over the years, this state owed me and I hoped to get some kind of retribution at Clear Lake.

Well I did! Okay, so a 29th place finish may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but when you’ve had your hide tanned in Cali as many times as I have, just getting out of that state with a $10,000 check feels pretty darn good. Plus, given that I was in 77th place after the first day and managed to pull the nose up and avoid another California disaster in terms of Bassmaster Classic qualification points is a big bonus, too.

I started the tournament in Rodman’s Slough. I liked the area because the water in Rodman’s had the most color to it. Believe me, Clear Lake is correctly named. The clarity of the water gives bass the upper hand, which is why finesse tactics work so well there.

The first morning of the tournament, I got on my best bank in Rodman’s and started flipping bushes and laydowns with a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.

After settling in on my best stretch, I start hearing all this commotion and looked up to see Bill Lowen and Guy Eaker wearing bass out on the opposite bank from where I was fishing. I mean they were flat slinging them! Both guys were boat flipping 3- to 5-pounders left and right. They were culling three-pounders before I even had my first bite and it was KILLING me.

I guess Lowen finally took pity on me because he gave me a huge clue by telling me I needed to tie on some kind of cranking jig. I quickly tied on a Revenge Viberator cranking jig to my swimbait rod and caught two good ones on my stretch without intruding on their bank.

The problem, however, was that I really did not have to the right rod and line combination tied on for a cranking jig and I lost two big ones because of it. I should have just stopped right then, sat down, took a deep breath, respooled the right rod with the right line and went back to fishing.

But by then, my mind was fried. After getting schooled by Lowen and Eaker and losing a couple of big ones to having the cranking jig tied on the improper tackle, I left to the area and fished elsewhere – there’s only so much of a beatdown a man can take!

By the way, let me just say, Guy Eaker maybe 70 years old, but that man can still dish out a throttling with a rod and reel. I wish you could have seen him boat flipping 5-pounders – he put on a fish-catching clinic at Clear.

That evening I got my tackle and my mind right. I spooled up 20-pound test Vicious Ultimate Fishing line (monofilament) on a 7-foot American Rodsmiths H3 Magnum Bass rod. For me it’s the perfect combination for a swimming jig or chatterbait style lure. The cranking jig I ended up using the most was a ½ -ounce Revenge Viberator in black and blue with a black Zoom split-tail trailer.

I returned to Rodman’s on day two with my refined arsenal. This time I put on my hood so I couldn’t hear Lowen and Eaker catching all those fish behind me. Indeed, they had the best bank in the slough, but there were a few fish on my stretch too. I ended up catching 20-15 the second day and 20-12 the third day to jump from 77th to 29th.

During the second day I figured out that with the cool nights, the fish were actually moving out off the bank cover to the base of the outside bushes and that’s were they were during the mornings. I’d crawl the Viberator along the outside bushes in the morning and the bass would smoke it. Having the right tackle made a huge difference in getting the fish in the boat.

Sometime around noon, when the bank cover and bushes would warm up from the sun, the fish would move up into the bushes and then I could catch them flipping a Sweet Beaver 420.

Here’s a closer look at the tackle I used at Clear Lake:

Reel: Ardent XS 1000 5:1
Rod: American Rodsmith H3 Magnum Bass rod 7′
Line: Vicious Ultimate Fishing Line 20 lb. clear
Lure:  1/2 oz. Revenge Viberator (black/blue); Zoom split tail trailer (black)

Flipping

Reel: Ardent XS 1000 6:3:1
Rod: American Rodsmiths H3 flipping stick 7’-6”
Line: Vicious Ultimate Fishing Line 25 lb. clear
Lure: Reaction Innovations Sweat Beaver 420 (watermelon); 3/8-ounce Tru-Tungsten weight; 4/0 Xpoint round bend hook.

Scent: Carolina Lunker Sauce Crawlic

By Colonel James E. Moschgat, Commander of the 12th Operations Group, 12th Flying Training Wing, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas

William “Bill” Crawford certainly was an unimpressive figure, one you could easily overlook during a hectic day at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Mr. Crawford, as most of us referred to him back in the late 1970s, was our squadron janitor.

While we cadets busied ourselves preparing for academic exams, athletic events, Saturday morning parades and room inspections, or
never-ending leadership classes, Bill quietly moved about the squadron mopping and buffing floors, emptying trash cans, cleaning toilets, or just tidying up the mess 100 college-age kids can leave in a dormitory. Sadly, and for many years, few of us gave him much notice, rendering little more than a passing nod or throwing a curt, “G’morning!” in his direction as we hurried off to our daily duties.

Why? Perhaps it was because of the way he did his job-he always kept the squadron area spotlessly clean, even the toilets and showers gleamed. Frankly, he did his job so well, none of us had to notice or get involved. After all, cleaning toilets was his job, not ours. Maybe it was is physical appearance that made him disappear into the background. Bill didn’t move very quickly and, in fact, you could say he even shuffled a bit, as if he suffered from some sort of injury. His gray hair and wrinkled face made him appear ancient to a group of young cadets. And his crooked smile, well, it looked a little funny. Face it, Bill was an old man working in a young person’s world. What did he have to offer us on a personal level?

Finally, maybe it was Mr. Crawford’s personality that rendered him almost invisible to the young people around him. Bill was shy, almost painfully so. He seldom spoke to a cadet unless they addressed him first, and that didn’t happen very often. Our janitor always buried himself in his work, moving about with stooped shoulders, a quiet gait, and an averted gaze. If he noticed the hustle and bustle of cadet life around him, it was hard to tell. So, for whatever reason, Bill blended into the woodwork and became just another fixture around the squadron. The Academy, one of our nation’s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr. Crawford…well, he was just a janitor.

That changed one fall Saturday afternoon in 1976. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story. On September 13, 1943, a Private William Crawford from Colorado, assigned to the 36th Infantry Division, had been involved in some bloody fighting on Hill 424 near Altavilla, Italy. The words on the page leapt out at me: “in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire … with no regard for personal safety … on his own initiative, Private Crawford single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions.” It continued, “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States …” “Holy cow,” I said to my roommate, “you’re not going to believe this, but I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor winner.” We all knew Mr. Crawford was a WWII Army vet, but that didn’t keep my friend from looking at me as if I was some sort of alien being. Nonetheless, we couldn’t wait to ask Bill about the story on Monday. We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page in question from the book, anticipation and doubt in our faces. He starred at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, “Yep, that’s me.”

Mouths agape, my roommate and I looked at one another, then at the book, and quickly back at our janitor. Almost at once we both stuttered, “Why didn’t you ever tell us about it?” He slowly replied after some thought,    “That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.” I guess we were all at a loss for words after that. We had to hurry off to class and Bill, well, he had chores to attend to. However, after that brief exchange, things were never again the same around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst-Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had won the Medal! Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, “Good morning, Mr. Crawford.” Those who had before left a mess for the “janitor” to clean up started taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Most cadets routinely stopped to talk to Bill throughout the day and we even began inviting him to our formal squadron functions. He’d show up dressed in a conservative dark suit and quietly talk to those who approached him, the only sign of his heroics being a simple blue, star- spangled lapel pin.

Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates. Mr. Crawford changed too, but you had to look closely to notice the difference. After that fall day in 1976, he seemed to move with more purpose, his shoulders didn’t seem to be as stooped, he met our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger “good morning” in return, and he flashed his crooked smile more often. The squadron gleamed as always, but everyone now seemed to notice it more. Bill even got to know most of us by our first names, something that didn’t happen often at the Academy. While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill’s cadets and his squadron.

As often happens in life, events sweep us away from those in our past. The last time I saw Bill was on graduation day in June 1977. As I walked out of the squadron for the last time, he shook my hand and simply said, “Good luck, young man.” With that, I embarked on a career that has been truly lucky and blessed. Mr. Crawford continued to work at the Academy and eventually retired in his native Colorado where he resides today, one of four Medal of Honor winners living in a small town.

A wise person once said, “It’s not life that’s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.” Bill was one who made a difference for me. While I haven’t seen Mr. Crawford in over twenty years, he’d probably be surprised to know I think of him often. Bill Crawford, our janitor, taught me many valuable, unforgettable leadership lessons. Here are ten I’d like to share with you.

1. Be Cautious of Labels. Labels you place on people may define your relationship to them and bound their potential. Sadly, and for a long time, we labeled Bill as just a janitor, but he was so much more. Therefore, be cautious of a leader who callously says, “Hey, he’s just an Airman.” Likewise, don’t tolerate the O-1, who says, “I can’t do that, I’m just a lieutenant.”

2. Everyone Deserves Respect. Because we hung the “janitor” label on Mr. Crawford, we often wrongly treated him with less respect than others around us. He deserved much more, and not just because he was a Medal of Honor winner. Bill deserved respect because he was a janitor, walked among us, and was a part of our team.

3. Courtesy Makes a Difference. Be courteous to all around you, regardless of rank or position. Military customs, as well as common courtesies, help bond a team. When our daily words to Mr. Crawford turned from perfunctory “hellos” to heartfelt greetings, his demeanor and personality outwardly changed. It made a difference for all of us.

4. Take Time to Know Your People. Life in the military is hectic, but that’s no excuse for not knowing the people you work for and with. For years a hero walked among us at the Academy and we never knew it. Who are the heroes that walk in your midst?

5. Anyone Can Be a Hero. Mr. Crawford certainly didn’t fit anyone’s standard definition of a hero. Moreover, he was just a private on the day he won his Medal. Don’t sell your people short, for any one of them may be the hero who rises to the occasion when duty calls. On the other hand, it’s easy to turn to your proven performers when the chips are down, but don’t ignore the rest of the team. Today’s rookie could and should be tomorrow’s superstar.

6. Leaders Should Be Humble. Most modern day heroes and some leaders are anything but humble, especially if you calibrate your “hero meter” on today’s athletic fields. End zone celebrations and self-aggrandizement are what we’ve come to expect from sports greats. Not Mr. Crawford-he was too busy working to celebrate his past heroics. Leaders would be well-served to do the same.

7. Life Won’t Always Hand You What You Think You Deserve. We in the military work hard and, dang it, we deserve recognition, right? However, sometimes you just have to persevere, even when accolades don’t come your way. Perhaps you weren’t nominated for junior officer or airman of the quarter as you thought you should – don’t let that stop you.

8. Don’t pursue glory; pursue excellence. Private Bill Crawford didn’t pursue glory; he did his duty and then swept floors for a living. No job is beneath a Leader. If Bill Crawford, a Medal of Honor winner, could clean latrines and smile, is there a job beneath your dignity? Think about it.

9. Pursue Excellence. No matter what task life hands you, do it well. Dr. Martin Luther King said, “If life makes you a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” Mr. Crawford modeled that philosophy and helped make our dormitory area a home.

10. Life is a Leadership Laboratory. All too often we look to some school or PME class to teach us about leadership when, in fact, life is a leadership laboratory. Those you meet everyday will teach you enduring lessons if you just take time to stop, look and listen. I spent four years at the Air Force Academy, took dozens of classes, read hundreds of books, and met thousands of great people. I gleaned leadership skills from all of them, but one of the people I remember most is Mr. Bill Crawford and the lessons he unknowingly taught. Don’t miss your opportunity to learn. Bill Crawford was a janitor. However, he was also a teacher, friend, role model and one great American hero. Thanks, Mr. Crawford, for some valuable leadership lessons.

Dale Pyeatt, Executive Director of the National Guard Association of Texas, comments: And now, for the “rest of the story”: Pvt William John Crawford was a platoon scout for 3rd Platoon of Company L 1 42nd Regiment 36th Division (Texas National Guard) and won the Medal Of Honor for his actions on Hill 424, just 4 days after the invasion at Salerno.

Added by: John Griffith 6/09/2003

On Hill 424, Pvt Crawford took out 3 enemy machine guns before darkness fell, halting the platoon’s advance. Pvt Crawford could not be found and was assumed dead. The request for his MOH was quickly approved. Major General Terry Allen presented the posthumous MOH to Bill Crawford’s father, George, on 11 May 1944 in Camp (now Fort) Carson, near Pueblo. Nearly two months after that, it was learned that Pvt Crawford was alive in a POW camp in Germany. During his captivity, a German guard clubbed him with his rifle. Bill overpowered him, took the rifle away, and beat the guard unconscious. A German doctor’s testimony saved him from severe punishment, perhaps death. To stay ahead of the advancing Russian army, the prisoners were marched 500 miles in 52 days in the middle of the German winter, subsisting on one potato a day. An allied tank column liberated the camp in the spring of 1945, and Pvt Crawford took his first hot shower in 18 months on VE Day

. Pvt Crawford stayed in the army before retiring as a MSG and becoming a janitor. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan officially presented the MOH to Bill Crawford. William Crawford passed away in 2000. He is the only U.S. Army veteran and sole Medal of Honor winner to be buried in the cemetery of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Note: Co. James Moschgat can be contacted at james.moschgat@randolph.af.mil.

Here are a few pictures from the Bassmaster Elite Series event at Clear Lake, California.  This is Saturday mornings launch.

Rough start to ‘California Swing’

BASS calls it the Duel in the Delta…I might as well call it the Drool in the Delta because that’s about all I do when I go to the California Delta for a tournament.

During the 2010 Elite Series season opener I brought in a whopping two-day total of 11-06 for a wonderful 76th place start to the year. Not too good!

The Delta is a superb fishery but this time around it was a little stingy to the BASS field as a whole. A late spring and cooler-than-average-water temperatures had the catches off pace. Usually after day one at the Delta, it takes at least a 20-pound bag to be in the running for the top 12; this year it was 15 pounds and there was only one 20-pound plus bag weighed in on day one.

The Delta is a tidal fishery, and though I’ve fished my share of tidal water, especially back East on the James and Potomac systems, I’ve never seen a place where bass are so sensitive to tides. Out West it’s like the bass have small 20- to 30-minute windows that they feed in depending on the tide. When that small tidal window is open and they’re feeding, you can look like a hero with 10 to 15 bites on a 100-yard stretch. But here’s the problem: they only feed like that on that particular tide for a half an hour at the most and then they’re done.

During practice I found two places like this. At a certain tide (for me it was the last hour of incoming, when it was the fullest) I got about 10 bites in two different 50-yard stretches. Unfortunately these two places were about 40 miles apart. But what made them so valuable to me was that, according to the tide charts, I was going to be able to duplicate the high tide feeding window on these two places during tournament hours.

I got to fish both places at the right tides and the few I caught came quickly during that narrow window of time, but it’s like that window just wasn’t open long enough. I got two or three bites in a row and then it was over. I mostly cranked rip-rap with a Bandit 200 in Spring Craw and a Pure Poison cranking jig.

And with all that running around between spots, I did something I’ve never done before in a tournament: I ran out of gas, not once but twice!

Both days I ran out of gas – 52 gallons each day. On day one, I actually made it to weigh-in, then ran out running back to where I put in. On day two I ran out of gas about a mile from the check-in. Much thanks to Kelly Jordon for bringing me in on day two or I wouldn’t have been able to weigh-in my two “monsters.”

In all, it was a very frustrating tournament and now I’m zero for five in the check-getting department in California. The bass in this state owe me…maybe I’ll get some revenge at Clear Lake coming up next!

Dream Big,

Marty

Here are a few videos I shot while down at the Bassmaster Classic.  There a three videos in all, one about the XPoint hooks, one about Daiichi Treble hooks and finally about Bleeding Bait Hooks. Here is a link to the rest of the videos.  Thanks and enjoy!

Elite Series pro Marty Stone re-spools with Vicious Fishing

DORA, Ala. (Feb. 28, 2010) – Vicious Fishing, makers of premium quality fishing lines, has signed BASS Elite Series Pro Marty Stone to a multiple-year sponsorship agreement.

Vicious bass fishing brands include Vicious Ultimate Fishing Line, Vicious Fluorocarbon and Vicious Braid.

Stone, a 15-year BASS pro and two-time winner on the BASS Elite Series, signed on with Vicious Fishing in 2009 for a one-year commitment. At the end of 2009, he looked to further his relationship with Vicious, recently signing back on for a multiple-year agreement.

“Vicious is a perfect fit for me and here’s why,” Stone said. “For one, Vicious is a family-run business in Alabama, not a giant corporate conglomerate with offices all over the world. It’s a small company built on family, friendships and a dedication to making the best fishing line on the market. And two, all of their line is extruded in the U.S.A., and that’s important to me as well.”

Another aspect of Vicious that Stone has come to favor is the product line’s simplicity.

“They make Vicious Ultimate Fishing line, which is their monofilament, Vicious fluorocarbon and Vicious braid, it’s that simple,” Stone said. “They don’t confuse the marketplace with six different versions of each line.”

Chris Dutton, the Pro-Staff Manager for Vicious Fishing, says Stone gelled nicely with Vicious last year and he is happy to have him on board long term.

“I’ve known Marty a long time and he is a great fit for the Vicious brand,” Dutton said. “Marty is a family man, a proven winner, he maintains a strong promotional presence and he is a hard worker.”

As an example of the value Stone brings to the table for Vicious, he relates a small snippet from the recent Bassmaster Classic.

“Marty didn’t make the Classic this year, but he attended to represent his sponsors,” Dutton explained. “One of his other sponsors asked him to do a promotion with Fish Fishburne on stage. Marty immediately obliged. The next thing I know, Marty is getting more stage time at the Classic than most of the anglers who were in it. That’s Marty for you – he gets it.”

Check out the 2010 Bass Cat Boats catalog online.  Click in the middle of the document to blow it up to full screen.  Very cool!!

A few thoughts about the 2010 Bassmaster Classic

I just returned from Lay Lake, site of the 2010 Classic. Since I didn’t qualify this year, I watched it from sidelines, which is a humbling, yet inspirational experience, and here’s why I say that:

The Classic has been to Birmingham multiple times. And it’s no secret, the fishing industry, like a lot of things right now, is dealing with some tough times. So I had some reservations when I left for this Classic that because Birmingham is a repeat venue and the economy is lagging, crowds would be moderate at best.

When I arrived at the Convention Center, I was blown away by the lines of people waiting to get in the exhibition hall, even before it officially opened. All three days the exhibition hall was packed with eager folks who had fishing on their minds. I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new faces that have discovered bass fishing in the last year or so.

At weigh-in on Saturday and Sunday, the coliseum was jam packed with rabid bass fishing fans; once again Alabama represented.

In short, the sheer energy, interest and enthusiasm I saw at the Classic did my heart good. Believe me when I tell you there are still A LOT of people who enjoy and want to be a part of bass fishing.  I am happy to report there is still quite a bit of life in this business.

As for the fishing itself, hey, there’s no denying it, Kevin VanDam is THE best. Period. And he proved it more at this Classic than any of his other Classic titles.

Why? Because KVD basically handed out the playbook to everyone before the tournament started. There were no secret locations or outdated, hard to find lures in this win. He fished one of the most well-known areas on Lay Lake. He used a Strike King Red Eye Shad, a lure that’s readily available to anyone. And he did it all in front of hundreds of spectators every day.

This would be the equivalent of a quarterback telling the defense, BEFORE the game even starts, when he is going to pass the ball and exactly who he is going to pass it to. And still no one can stop him.

Everyone in that field knew that a lipless rattler was going to be a primary player. Everyone in that field knew that the back of Beeswax Creek is a hotspot on Lay Lake. Before that tournament began, everything was out on the table; no one can claim that he had even an inking of advantage over anyone else going into that tournament.

Kevin whipped everyone’s tail, simple as that. Which, in and of itself is pretty inspirational…

Dream Big,

Marty