I recently travelled 1,000 miles south of my home in southeastern Pennsylvania to compete in the first KBS tournament of the year on the St. Johns River in Florida. It was also my first tournament of 2016 and was a welcomed break from the iced over water and snow covered landscape back home. Weather was beautiful all week with highs ranging from low to mid 70s and only one night of rain during my entire stay. The fishing, on the other hand, was not as hot for me! During my 4 days of practice I only netted two bass! The night before tournament day I asked myself, “Why did I even come down 

Most people who do tournaments outside of their local area will attest to the challenges of fishing foreign waters. You usually need different tackle and time to practice unfamiliar techniques. There are various wild animals (this trip they had big jaws and teeth!) of which you need to be aware and keep on the watch. Factoring in travel, accommodations, food, and a [wife who insists you stick to a] budget can and will all add stress to even the most seasoned angler. So, why do this? Why travel far away from home to compete? Individual answers, I am sure, will vary! The competition aspect of a tournament is thrilling, and the pursuit of a win is wonderful, but for me, I thrive on the combination of all these elements!

Although I made the trip to Florida solo, I had arranged to stay with two friends once I arrived. My friends, Jeffrey Hall and Mike Anderson, travelled from Georgia for the tournament. We shared a campsite and spent our down time, like most fisherman do, talking about fishing. We discussed anything and everything: varying techniques, water condition, fishing location, assorted knots, paddles, rods, reels, fishing line, etc. If it had anything to do with fishing or kayaking, rest assured, we talked about it. But we also talked about other things. There were conversations about food, family, kids, food, cars, politics, food (we talked about food a lot!). Each one of us had a difficult pre-fishing experience, but being able to share our stories and feelings at the end of the day was priceless.

Thankfully, tournament day was by far my best day on the water. I boated 14 bass by the end of the day, unfortunately there were no big girls to be found. My biggest bass measured 15.25 inches and my top five went for 74 inches. I placed 17th overall out of 62 anglers. Granted, I would have loved to have placed better, but after my horrible practice week I was thrilled to fill my bag. The experience of the whole week, not just tournament day, is what will keep me motivated and what encourages me to continue to push outside my comfort level. There is nothing better than reflecting on good friends and good memories while making the long trip home. Well, maybe a win… That sure is the goal for my next adventure! KBF National Championship, here I come!

Nick Lester
Feelfree Fishing Team Member (Former)