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Dealing with Adversity
By
Eric Foister

 

I fished the Fishers of Men Northern Regional at Sandusky Bay in the fall of 2003. I had been on Lake Erie seven times before the off limits period and felt like I was on good fish in different areas.  The weather forecast was for 20-30 mph SW winds.  Needless to say we were probably going to be confined to the bay.  Since I had not spent one day in the bay, the first morning of official practice my partner and I made an unwise decision to check out Sandusky River to get away from the crowds.  I was running around 55 mph in between the marker buoys, albeit close to one, when I struck a rock pile that was 3 inches below the water line.

My cowling on my 2000 Mercury 225 efi was knocked off.  My partner and I were very shook up.  I raised my engine to check out my lower unit and prop.  The prop was severely damaged but I could not see my lower unit very well.  We were 12 miles from the ramp where we put in and no one in sight.  I finally got the boat on plane and we limped back to the ramp.  After pulling the boat out I noticed a huge gaping hole in the nosecone of my lower unit!  Only by Gods grace did we make it back to the ramp safely.

I had a day and a half to get it fixed or we had to drive back to Indiana to get my partners boat.  My partner and I drove to 5 different marinas and were told they could not help us.  I did not give up hope.  We went to Mindermans Prop service and he referred us to Tim Baker of Professional Outboard Service off the outskirts of Port Clinton.  Tim was awesome.  They dropped everything to help us out.  They ordered and received overnight a new lower unit and had it installed the next day!!  He got us back on the water for the next two days of the tourney.  At the meeting on Thursday night I was told of 3 other teams that went home because they could not find service for their various problems.

Day 1
The weather was brutal.  The winds were from 15-25 mph and gusts up to 35mph.  Rain was non stop most of the day.  With no practice on the bay whatsoever, my partner and I decided to hit Marblehead and keep our baits in the water.  We stayed positive and more importantly humbled and thankful.  We caught two decent smallies weighing 5.48lb on what proved to be a tough day. With one hour left in the tourney my power went out.  No bilge pump, live well system, gps or sonar.  My cranking battery would not turn over.  With waves of 3-6 feet in the bay we were a little concerned.  I managed to jump the engine off my Trolling batteries to limp back to the weigh in. After finding ourselves in 7th place out of 166 teams we were excited.  Only 35 teams caught fish the first day.  After the weigh in I immediately took my boat to Tim at Professional Outboards.  He corrected the simple problem and again I was ready to go.

Day 2
For no other simple terms, we blanked!!  We fished hard but it was not meant to be.  After all the fish were weighed in we finished 16th.  We also qualified for the Nationals for the second time in three years.

Tournament fishing is 75% mental!!! Perseverance is a word that we hear a lot in times of struggle and grief.  I think it is a great quality to have to be successful in anything.  Never be negative.  Always turn a positive into a negative.  It is easy to get discouraged on the water when the fish aren’t cooperating like you want.  Remember, always keep an open mind and stay positive.    We could have easily quit and gone home like 1/3 of the field did on Saturday.  The cliché of never giving up is very true. My motto as a coach and a teacher is “How you deal with adversity dictates how successful you will become”.  I am glad I was taught that at a young age and I never will forget.   I hope it will help you. 

Eric Foister
Huntington
, IN