So this is a story about a fully loaded Toyota Tundra quad cab 4×4 and a friend I met on a project around 2009.
I was a site supervisor and resource person working for Jacobs Engineering. Jacobs was the EPCM lead on the project which entailed the streamlining and retrofit of a Shell natural gas plant. Looking back I am amazed at all the job titles I held on that project but that is a story in itself. This is a story about a man and his Toyota truck.
Well into the project I met a gentleman who had a specialty in inspection and was tasked with following all the piping installations and ensuring everything was done, checked and completed as designed. One day I got a visit from this person, Peter Hogan. We were both very busy but he had come by to ask me some totally unrelated questions about fishing. That was a subject that caught my attention right away and I sat back and listened to what the man had to say.
Peter Hogan had entered a contest and was surprised to learn that his name was selected as one of six anglers to compete for a Toyota Tundra truck. The contestants would be flown into a northern Manitoba lodge where they would be in the care of a guide. The contest was all about the total length of fish (walleye) caught in a prescribed time period over the course of one day. The fishing locations were marked out on the lake map and each angler and guide would have twenty minutes to fish each locale and then return for the awards ceremony at the lodge.
Peter Hogan was a trout fisherman and not a lead chunker like me. Peter had no idea how to fish walleye and had heard I might be able to help him with some pointers. So the question asked, was how much time do I have to give you pointers? The answer caught me off guard as he told me he was leaving the following afternoon to catch his flight to the lodge. I promptly told him I didn’t have the time to go through walleye fishing tips with him and that I was overloaded with work. He said thank you and was about to leave when I suggested he drop into my office before leaving site.
It was near impossible feat to explain walleye fishing tactics to someone who never touched a jig or felt a walleye bite. One thing I can say for certain about trout fishermen is their ability to study the conditions and adapt. I had my plan set to help Peter out and it might take a little more of my time than I wished but what are friends for.
I worked on his program though all my breaks and into the evening. Finally as I closed my computer for the day, I had his information all printed out and placed in a binder. I didn’t have the time to explain details to Peter but he had a lot of flying time he could use to read all my most pertinent tips and tactics to enable him to be competitive.
In my notes, I envisioned where he was fishing and the conditions he would most likely encounter. From every thought that came to mind, I wrote a scenario and what his actions or reactions should be. I even thought about the guide and the equipment Peter was going to get to fish with. My intuition was dead on in every aspect after Peter and I discussed his trip a week later.
One of the key points I made early on was “mind over matter”. I told him his fellow competitors would be on an adrenaline rush and they would be making errors in their reaction to a bite. And if prophecy was the guiding light, Peter told me about a competitor who missed fish after fish by reacting too quickly to a bite and went from first to third.
The competitors were greeted at the lodge by Toyota representatives and their master of ceremonies, professional angler and tv host , Dave Mercer. Each angler was paired with their host guide and shown the lake map. Each area to be fished was marked with a large buoy and had observers in other boats filming the action. An air horn was used to identify stop and start times. The map looked a bit like a golf course and the guides drew their starting positions and would rotate through the six locations. There was only one boat and guide fishing in a prescribed area at one time and only jig and minnow allowed.
I had described what I felt the guides would be doing with their boats on any given structure. Structure I mentioned were shallow sand flats, breaking points into deep water, rocky bottom etc. In each scenario I explained what the fish might do in case the weather was stable, cold, windy or unsettled. I also described the walleye habits under these conditions and how to compensate for the changes.
The day started out cloudy and turned nasty. By the fourth location, Peter and the rest of the field were pulled off the lake due to lightning and thunderstorms. This would give Peter another day to read the notes. In the notes I had suspected the format that the organizers would use. I coached Peter to ask the guides what they knew of the fishing locations prior to getting there. In that way Peter would have a mental picture of what he might do to catch fish.
On the second day, the weather cleared. Peter was in second place, but seven inches off the lead and only an inch and a half ahead of third. Peter and the guide were headed to a sandy shallow flat. This was the hot spot before the weather changed and the majority of yesterday’s fish were caught here.
I had written that weather changes such as thunderstorms and rapid temperature changes, would most likely push the fish off the sand flats and into deep water. The only option was to go with the lightest jig possible and wait out a bite. Peter only caught one small fish on the sand and was disappointed. His Toyota was all but lost with only one more location and twenty minutes to fish.
Again, in the submission I wrote for him, I mentioned focus. Stay focussed and don’t let your negative thoughts interfere with your fishing abilities and that is exactly what he did. Peter was off to his final spot on the lake. Much to his delight, it was a sharp break to thirty feet. I had mentioned to Peter that fish often go deep after a thunderstorm. As was this case, as he hooked into a 27″ walleye as the guide motored around. Peter asked his guide to slow down and go up and down the break. He was fishing a lighter than normal jig but asked if the guide would allow him to fish the jig more vertically. The guide hovered around 27′ depth and bang, a 25″, bang, a 23″, bang a 27″ and wrapping up his 20 minutes with a 19″ and 17″ fish all coming to net. Now Peter was thinking – where do I stand. How did my fellow competitors do?
I was told later that Dave Mercer did a wonderful job with the anglers, keeping them in suspense and trying to pry all sorts of information out of them. I did see the finished tape and tv program when it aired. I watched as the early leader was on an adrenaline rush and fanned on a lot of fish. I watched as other anglers did not know how to bring a fish to net or how to set the hook. I found it amazing to watch as Peter dliberately set the hook and then lead it into the net for the guide. By the time the guide measured the fish, Peter had the hook baited and was already in the water.
You could see how tense the atmosphere was at the lodge that day. But the other thing I noticed was Peter Hogan. He was relaxed as best he could be but he was forever smiling. I told him at the beginning that this was the reason he was at Aikens Lake Lodge. It was for the once in a lifetime experience and he should enjoy every moment, no matter where he stood in the standings.
Peter came back to work a week later. Someone told me he had seen him on site and was bubbling over, wanting to show off his new truck. Yes, Peter Hogan was driving a new, fully loaded Toyota Tundra 4×4 quad cab truck and that made my earlier efforts even more rewarding. He had overcome his deficit and passed yesterday’s leader.
Peter mentioned to me how frustrated the angler leading the contest became when he started to miss fish and how his guide had to absorb is vocal feelings. Other anglers did not know how to fish the remaining spots after the thunderstorms but Peter remembered and trusted the information I gave him. It was a pleasure to watch him on the ensuing television show. He was fishing and acting like a true professional angler and he never forgot to thank the sponsor Toyota.