Day 1 was very busy as none of us had done anything like this before or at this magnitude. Got camera equipment put in the pro’s boat and formed a game plan with him. The first day I was assigned to…
Tuesday – Well I showed up to the meeting at the Hilton Hotel and it was a mad house of media and reporters interviewing the anglers.
Wednesday – I received an invite to attend the Red Carpet media party at the Municipal Auditorium. Photo ops and autographs from the Pro’s and Ray Scott.
Thursday – Headed to the camera boat meeting at Red River South marina to gather information on the job at hand; being a camera boat for ESPN. Got the briefing and met my camera operator. We formed a game plan for the following day to help make things go as smooth as possible. At about 9pm I headed home to get some sleep for the next three big days.
Friday – Day 1 was very busy as none of us had done anything like this before or at this magnitude. Got camera equipment put in the pro’s boat and formed a game plan with him. The first day I was assigned to Greg Hackney. He was extremely focused and had his game face on. All the lights and media were now second in his mind. Catching fish was now priority number one.
We headed to the lock-n-dam on our way to pool 4 and the big run to the “little jungle”. We locked thru and started our blast off and for some reason my boat just wouldn’t get on plane. Come to find out a large log had gotten jammed between my engine and boat. Now there isn’t anyone in site, oh and did I mention that I’d never been to the “Jungle” in pool 4. That didn’t matter however; we freed the log and were off. My new LEGEND boat got pushed to the limit and exceeded par as expected. It took us a bit to find Hackney but with a couple of phone calls we finally located him.
He was in some very skinny water, about 18 inches to be exact. He asked that I be very quiet and turn off my electronics. I made the first tape run and on the way out Edwin Evers came into the same area along with several spectators. I couldn’t believe how smooth yet hard the pro’s fished. I was soaking it all up to be used for later. The day was running short so we headed towards the lock and then to weigh-in.
Saturday – Day 2 and tired was my name, only getting about 4 hours of sleep the night before. That didn’t stop me from doing what was needed, however. I got the word that I was following Jami Fralick. After day 1 Jami was holding down the second place seat, closely trailing Boyd Duckett.
The observer and I watched as Jami loaded the boat with high quality fish in the 3 and 4 lbs range. Brian Snowden also fished the same pattern and area that Jami did. Getting to see these two masters work the water and structure was amazing. They literally covered each other’s water time and time again. Both did exceptionally well by day’s end.
After his 19+ lbs limit on Friday, Fralick ended day two with another 16+ lbs sack to bump all others and be in the hot seat for the first time in his 3 year career. Earlier that morning I got the chance to talk with him on a more personal level, wow, what a nice guy and very easy to speak with. The kindness and information flowed like the Red River does this time of year. Later on the water, he held up every fish he caught so folks around could take pictures and give a little cheer. Jami Fralick made a fan out of me.
Sunday – Day 3 and only half the field was left to beat the stumps in the hopes to claim the $500,000 prize waiting at the end of the day and have the chance to hold up the ELITE TROPHY. I was very happy to hear that I would be following Jami Fralick again. I met with him that morning and he let me know that he would be returning to the same area in hopes to pull another high teen’s limit from there.
Since I knew where to go now, I took my time on the long run from the pool 5 lock to the Jungle. My friend Steve and I ran side by side down the river when we came across Brian Snowden with a shelled lower unit. After a short stop I kept going, knowing that he was in good hands and help was on the way. I dropped the hammer to make up some lost time and as I went under the Coushatta Hwy 84 Bridge I looked down at my GPS and saw that I was doing 74.1 mph and knew that I was making up ground.
I got to my spot and found several other boats watching Jami and eased into position to collect tapes. While tied up to a stump, Jami circled around not more than 30 ft behind my boat and “bam” put his first fish of the day in his boat. Like the day before he was nothing but smiles and held up the fish for everyone to take pictures. About an hour later, Brian Snowden arrived in a new boat and began fishing. He kindly asked if I could move back towards the edge of the stump field since both he and Jami would be sharing the same water again. I gave him a thumbs up that we would move and as I was about to leave, he hung into a nice 2 pounder right behind the boat the same as Fralick had done.
Jami Fralick and Brian Snowden continued to fish when suddenly I was waved over by Jami. He informed me that Adam, the camera operator, was going to get in my boat and I would be trolling right beside him. We got started and within 15 minutes he caught 3 fish and all were caught on film from my boat. Later that day, I was told that that footage was the only footage filmed in which the camera operator was in the camera boat and filmed the Pro catching fish, which made me feel good.
Jami caught a nice limit, however, he just couldn’t get that quality bite going like he had the two days prior. He knew this as well with a limit of only 10+ lbs, but he never lost his cool or his kindness. I discovered that there is more to being an Elite Pro than just catching fish and Jami Fralick had all bases covered and delivered a true sportsman’s example. He was bumped from the hot seat to 8th place, but looks forward to the day he and the others get to return to the Red River for round 2.