Friday, June 10, 2016
The Photo Bin - May 2016
It was a last minute decision to attend the event and, like most such impulsive endeavors, it would either work out or it wouldn't. As it turned out, my last-minute detour into the heart of Tennessee did both. Hell, I was halfway there anyway; that is if you consider three hours into an eight-hour road trip to be halfway. I assure you, when there's fishing involved the equation balances perfectly.
I entered the tourney without a seat in a boat, reasoning that somewhere, somehow, someone might not make it and I could slide into an open spot. Just as likely, though, I wouldn't, and that would be cool too, giving me the freedom to roam around a bit, snap a few pictures, and relax. Regardless, boat or no, I'd catch up with some old friends, make a few new, and generally hang out with the cool kids.
I got off the water in Kings Mountain, NC, three hours west of home, after a good day chasing carp, filled the tank and hit the road for McMinnville. Stopped but once on the way, in Asheville, for provisions. A box of Wheat Thins, a bag of Snyder's Pieces (honey mustard and onion), and a couple of sixes of beer. You know. The basics.
But construction delays around Knoxville put a kink in the works and I ended up late to the party on Thursday night and unable to hook up with a boat for the next day. But no worries. It was all worth it and here's a handful of odds-and-ends pictures to prove it.
Perfect Photo Bin fare.
Above, the centerpiece of McMinnville musky culture, Buddy McMahon's mural on the backside of Collins River BBQ and Cafe, painted during last year's event. Very cool.
While the musky tournament was competitive, it couldn't hold a candle to the Thursday night beer pong rumble at the Franzen cabin. Here Mr. Paul Puckett shows his perfect form, in a losing cause. He and Kyle would avenge this loss later, after a few more rounds (on and off the table), with the battle cry "The higher they get, the taller they fall."
By that point in the evening, everyone understood what they meant.
Friday, while the contestants fished, I wandered around the county, taking odd pictures around McMinnville and trying to catch the occasional boat floating down some Caney Fork tributary.
I got more than a couple of suspicious stares from the locals as I hung out on the bridges, but the views were worth it.
I also wandered around town and picked up some odd images, my muse apparently still inebriated from the previous evening's beer pong. The textures in this city dumpster were of particular interest and, honestly, this image may be my favorite from the entire trip. Go figure.
More detritus from the old railroad part of town. I'm easily distracted with a camera in my hands.
The best part of the event, of course, is the people. Musky fishermen are an odd and varied lot, and no one understands that better than our host and tournament director, Todd Gregory, the founder and head honcho at Towee Boats. At least half of the craft floating in the tournament came out of his shop. Bloody good boats.
Todd also puts on a damn good weekend, including three good feeds and a preponderance of swag to go along with the fishing main event that brings anglers from all over North America. And of particular interest, to me at least, is each year's trophy; a customized guitar, a nod to Nashville, just an hour-and-a-half west. Todd's got connections in that town and lures some fine musicians, each year, to join in the fun.
Of note in this picture is the lad standing in the background. He became a bit of a celebrity for, the day before the tournament began, he caught his first musky - a feat that the vast majority of the real fisherman failed to do over the duration of the tournament. Good for you, little dude.
Since I was late in arriving, I compensated by leaving a day early (which makes every bit as much sense as three hours being half of eight, but that's how I roll sometimes). Todd had found me a possible seat for Day Two, but rather than inflicting my meager musky skills and rowing chops on perfect strangers (you only torture those that you love) I hit the road early, having been called back home for another last minute impulse. I'm a slave to my whims.
And while I was in McMinnville but briefly, I got the lay of the land and am prepared, already, for next year's Hardly, Strictly Musky, including a seat in a boat. My buddy Pipes and I will be ready.
Maybe I can fish like the kid.
Note: I can't get away without extending my deepest gratitude to Guy Franzen and his "team" (sons Patrick and Chris, Alan and Abbi, and the unsinkable Peter) for putting me up during my all-to-brief stay. Your hospitality made the trip work and for that I am in your debt.
What is a Photo Bin?