Always The Groomsman, Never The Bride

I woke up today to find all my inboxes deluged with correspondences from anxious members of the fishing press looking for an exclusive interview with big loser of last night’s 18th Annual Bassmaster Classic. Voicemails. Emails. Faxes. Teletypes. Trans-Atlantic cables. Reporters, many working for publications which I was unable to win a subscription to last night, all desperate to know how I, as the odds on favorite, the angler who so handily won the qualifying tournaments and, frankly, as the most experienced and dedicated angler entered in last night’s contest, could have not only been bested by the two first time participants, but also the gay guy and the son of Choke Mikos. Clearly, the media knew this would be a big story, and it’s reverbirations would bounce through the sport like a Loos Lure willow leaf blade vibrating it’s way between the shoreline and some downed timber. Let me make it clear, I will be granting no exclusive interviews. Instead, I will tell you my story – the true story – of what happened to me at Shadow Lake last night.

Shadow Lake, location for the 2012 Bassmaster Classic

There are, of course, many factors in the equation. Beyond the typical “keep it in the family” efforts of crooked event organizers, I mean. I would never stoop to such a level as to claiming that the Loos Lure Company would rig the game in such a way that a participant with the last name of Loos would win. I think one need only look back at the history of the tournament’s long, diverse list of past winners to realize that no such nepotism could possible occur.

(editor’s note: It was at this point the author rolled his eyes so quickly and violently that he blacked out. His consciousness eventually returned to him, but the blackout was reminiscent a Gerk day 3 bender)

The primary factor in my shit-tastic performance is, of course, dice rolls. I feel my strategy was sound, as evidenced by the success I had on the hottest summer day and the late fall day. Of course, though, strategy and knowledge cannot factor into dice rolls, and Bassmasster Nick Loos would confide in me at the conclusion of the tournament that the dice rolls were as unlucky as he had ever seen. In addition to the dice costing me my chance at hoisting the trophy (and let’s face it…bringing the trophy to work with me and bringing it fishing with me and bringing it to the grocery store with me…etc), the dice cost me any chance at the baitcasting reel that was a prize to the angler with the highest poundage in a single day. Steven Loos (that would be the nephew of Loos Lure Company founder Mike Loos, son of 6 time champion Tim “Lunker” Loos and brother of current tournament organizer and fishing guide Bassmaster Nick Loos, for those keeping score at home) would take home that prize. He also netted a 3rd place finish, a subscription to Bassin’ magazine, a wide assortment of Loos Lures and, of course, the best grab bag gift, a 6 pack of beautiful South Bend inline spinners. For the record…if I had taken home that baitcaster, I would not be sitting here in my pajamas, listening to Gentle Giant and typing up a depressing postmortem. I would have lined that reel as soon as I woke up, headed out into the parking lot of my apartment complex before I even made my morning coffee, learned how to use it, and I would be at my local pond right now, wetting my line, putting some of the weedguarded skirted jigs rigged with a crawdad right into the tight downed timber that is virtually inaccessible to my cheap spinning gear. I am sure Steven will get plenty of use out of it, though. Once he buys the appropriate line. Oh…and a rod.

Handmade Loos Lures handed out to participants.

One more note on Steven. Very nice of the afforementioned Mike Loos, intrepid reporter that he is, to already anoint the young Steven with the nickname “Stud.” Funny how, when you’re a Loos, you get a nickname like “Stud” or “Lunker,” while the Mikos lineage is saddled with unflattering and nonsensical nicknames like “Spence,” “Bobo” and “Choke.”

The dice cost me more than that, though, as I said. I finished in the humiliating position of next-to-last. A spot from where I could look up at 5 “anglers,” whom, if you totaled up all of their time spent fishing, number of fish caught and weight of fish caught in this past season, it might equal something close to the season I put together by myself, and in a spot where I could look down at my youngest brother Alex Mikos who, with the humiliating final total of 14 fish for 21 pounds, received what easily could be one of the greatest consolation gifts in the history of all sports and competition. Something to rival the bragging rights, the lures, the trophy, the fishing trip, the reel and other swag handed out to the top three finishers.

Alex, as the biggest loser, received a true legacy item. A B.A.S.S. baseball cap that belonged to 13 time Bassmaster Classic participant Doc Loos, the man to whose last night’s event was dedicated. His forever, this hat will be sure to bring him good fortune on the lake this coming season and into the future.
Me?

I got a rock.

I got a rock.

Well, beyond the dice rolls and obvious fixing of the game (how my bigger, gayer brother Chris managed to sneak into the top 3 when it was so obvious that the scales were weighted in the favor of Loos boys Jon and Stud I will never know…perhaps the Loos Lure Company wanted to put on the appearance of being an inclusive and tolerant organization, particularly with the unresolved, but still talked-about sex scandal involving the Gerk and a “small, furry, woodland animal” that cast a pall over the 2001 tournament at Ginger Creek Reservoir), I suppose there were two self-imposed reasons for my disgusting performance.

First and foremost, there was a bottle of Crown Royal Cask 16 sitting, quite literally, within arm’s reach of me, and, frankly, I don’t get to drink things in that price range very often. Knowing that I was not responsible for driving myself home made it easier for me to imbibe, and after the first day totals, it was clear that that bottle of Crown Royal, with it’s oaken aroma and sweet twinges of warm cognac notes might be the only thing I would have to brag about at the night’s end. Drinking it straight, pouring one or two fingers at a time, I nursed this elixir throughout the event to deaden the searing pain of the dreaded “NO FISH” cards that Bassmaster Nick kept handing me…each one of them exacting a permanent paper cut in the depths of my soul. At the end of the night…that bottle of Cask 16 was all but killed, and I can only assume that other attendees were also at it’s teet, as my headache this morning is not indicative of someone who drank almost an entire bottle of whiskey and only slept for 5 hours. I do suppose, in the end, this drinking could constitute a chicken/egg argument on my performance, even though, between you, me, and the world…I didn’t lose because I was drunk. I was drunk because I knew I would lose.

There were, as they say, bigger fish frying in my mind, though. I have made it a policy of mine to not be distracted by off-the-field issues when plying my craft on the lake, but being asked not once, but twice by participants in the tournament if I would be willing to stand up as a groomsman in their weddings, both of which are happening in spring of 2013, was too much for me to put out of my mind. The honor of being a part of the bridal party for my cousin and one of my best friends weighed heavily on me, and, frankly…after such gestures were extended to me…I didn’t have the heart to beat them down as I harshly did in the qualifying tournament. It just wouldn’t be fittin’.

Day 3 totals. My camera would not take a photo of the day 4 leaderboard. The sensor, apparently, is too sensitive to capture such ghastly images.

Yes…that’s the story…I purposely took a fall so the young bucks who just got engaged would have a shot at winning…or something.

I don’t know. Whatever.

“It’s just a game.”

To view Mike Loos’ liveblog of the tournament, which features some photographs that truly can only rival his home videos in the category of low quality, check out http://bmclassic.tumblr.com/.

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About Anthony

Husband of one, father of one. Two cats, one dog, a bike, and some fishing poles. I do nothing well.
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